THE ROLE OF SPELEOTOURISM IN THE DEVELOPMENT OF TOURISM IN GEORGIA
Authors: TSITSINO DAVITULIANII, MAIA AZMAIPARASHVILI
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Karst relief is widespread in western Georgia, on the southern slopes of the Caucasian Mountains, from the river Psou to Lake Ertso. There are more than 1000 karst caves, which led to the formation of Georgia as a classic country of karst caves. Karst forms have been studied by many scientists, but the pioneer was Vakhushti Bagrationi.
Our region Imereti is especially distinguished by karst caves, where "Imereti Caves Protected Areas" has recently been created. According to the tourist motivation, there are 3 distinguished directions of speleotourism: extreme (Caving), spectacular (Show Cave Tourism) and medical (Speleotherapy). All these three directions are developed in our country, but at different levels. Among protected areas of Georgia most visitors come to karst natural monuments. For almost a decade now, priority is given to Prometheus Cave. The pandemic all over the world has reduced the number of visitors, but nowadays much is being done to attract them. In 2021, a new – White Cave was opened, where one can taste the wine made in the same cave. Soon the Satsurblia Cave will receive the first visitors, who are interested in speleotherapy.
Despite the above mentioned, there are still many potential cave resources to be explored that are little known but important. Among them I would like to distinguish a 13-storey Tsutskhvati cave, which has no analogue in the world. The aim of our paper is to get acquainted with such sites and to study their development perspectives. The inclusion of such landmarks in the list of natural tourist sightseeings of Georgia will increase the awareness of Georgia and the influx of visitors to our country.