Thanks to financial backing from the European Union, local winemakers, producers of traditional Kakhetian delicacies and souvenirs, tour operators and other small businesses in Manavi are seeing a surge in sales. This success is the direct result of the rehabilitation of Manavi Fortress’s main access road in the Kakheti region.
With the financial support of the European Union within the framework of its Pilot Integrated Regional Development Programme (PIRDP), a 2 kilometre-stretch of road section leading to the region’s historic and important touristic landmark in the Sagarejo municipality has been fully renovated. The region’s poor local infrastructure was cited locally as a key factor in preventing touristic development in the area. The programme of infrastructural rehabilitation works was put in place to improve access to the region for tourists and local people.
Locals believe such infrastructural improvements will only enhance Manavi’s touristic potential, and are confident an increase in visitors to this historic local site will in turn drive the local economy.
Giorgi Akhalkatsishvili, who has a vineyard producing wine near Manavi, is one of the project beneficiaries. He says that as an entrepreneur, rehabilitation of the access road to the Manavi Fortress complex is absolutely vital to reinvigorate the local economy. He says: “Decentralization is taking place, which means that the municipality – based on the needs of the population – now takes such decisions, and implements projects which positively affect the well-being of the local population.”
Tsitsino Javakhishvili, whose source of income is the production and sale of agricultural products, also expects an increase in sales after the road rehabilitation. He explains: “I own vineyards and orchards and have held small entrepreneur status for the past three years. I produce Georgian delicacies such as Churchkhela, Tklapi, and dried fruits, and my customers are mostly tourists. We have many remarkable sites in Manavi that, of course, attract tourists. However, the road to the Fortress was very poor, which made tourists uncomfortable.
“At our request, and with financial support from the European Union, the road was repaired, and now tourists find it much easier to get around. This is also a better solution for me, because selling of my products is far easier,” Tsitsino adds.
After the road rehabilitation is complete, it is planned to set up ethnic corners in the vicinity of the Fortress, which will enable locals to communicate directly with tourists and exhibit and sell their products.