English   Русский  

Mayor of Batumi Archil Chikovani: our goal is to create the most favorable conditions for investors and citizens

Mayor of Batumi Archil Chikovani: our goal is to create the most favorable conditions for investors and citizens

How the city will change in the coming years, how the development plan will be useful to investors, whether there will be new roads, schools, stadiums and kindergartens.

- How has Batumi changed in recent years? What new facilities have appeared, how has the infrastructure changed?

- The rapid economic development of Batumi, the expansion of its borders and the growth of consciousness of the citizens are the most noticeable changes in the last decade. For the past two years, Batumi Municipality has been trying to follow this trend and take all possible measures to improve the quality of life for residents and guests of the city.

The number of recreational zones and recreation areas is growing, road infrastructure is being improved, more plants are being planted, sports and playgrounds, stadiums are being renovated. More than 300 million lari have been allocated for the improvement of the city in recent years.

The allocated funds made it possible to improve the infrastructure of the city, including the construction of a football stadium that meets high European standards and the fourth category of UEFA. There is also a multifunctional sports complex in Batumi, where athletes from 40 different federations train and take classes in children's specialized clubs. Thanks to this, the city was able to host a prestigious international competition - the Olympic Games in chess.

The mayor's office has initiated a program to insulate kindergartens and several large-scale measures to save energy in urban infrastructure. Within the framework of this program, it is planned to re-equip 15 kindergartens.

We also implement several major projects in partnership with the German Reconstruction Credit Bank (KFW). Including the fourth stage of the Water and Sewerage Systems project, thanks to which we provided round-the-clock access to clean drinking water for more than 100,000 subscribers. In 2023, we will hold the fifth stage to increase the number of connected subscribers. When we complete this program, all residents of Batumi, that is, all subscribers of the city's water supply network, will receive round-the-clock water supply and access to a modern wastewater system, which is important for the further development of the city.

The mayor's office continues to develop road infrastructure both in the central part of the city and on the periphery. This year we managed to increase the budget for city needs by more than 100 million lari, and in the near future we will turn to the city council to increase the budget for the needs of the city next year as well. This way we can continue to improve the infrastructure of the city and make it even more comfortable for residents and more attractive for investors.

The tourism industry of Batumi is now on the rise: hotels, holiday homes, hotels and hostels are fully loaded. At the same time, the number of guests returns to the indicators of the pre-COVID period.

The tourism sector has a beneficial effect on the city's economy and brings a stable and high income, along with its development, the investment attractiveness of the city and its suburbs is growing. The city has a development program for all 14 administrative divisions of the city and micro districts for the next four years. In addition to existing green areas such as the Boulevard, Botanical Garden and Central Park, we plan to create additional green spaces in the courtyards of residential buildings, restore more than 30 squares and gardens. Most of the restoration works have already been completed. In the near future, we plan to equip more spaces for young people, including places for recreation, children's and sports grounds.

- Recently, the city government has tightened the construction and architectural regulations of the city. How will the new norms affect the appearance of the city and the interest of potential investors?

- Approval of architectural projects issued in previous years, fully consistent with the course of development of urban infrastructure. But the issuance of building permits has been partially suspended pending a series of measures to preserve the architectural identity of the city and not harm its appearance. Last year, we announced a competition for the development of a master plan for the development of the city, and during the tender we chose the winner.

We are currently conducting research, the results of which are important for making decisions on issuing building permits for a number of objects. The adopted document will become a kind of code of laws that will determine the development of the city in the coming years. This document will become a guide to action for both the municipality and municipal representatives, developers and investors.

The new development plan will not be an obstacle to investment. Its task is to take into account the mistakes in urbanization, architecture, and urban infrastructure development made over the past 30 years. Our efforts are designed to help entrepreneurs and investors get more profit.

Another project that we are currently implementing is “Batumi without emergency houses”. Dangerous houses are a big problem in our city. We have identified about 300 addresses where it is necessary to assess the need for major repairs. So we will solve the problem of about 3 thousand families. The government of the Autonomous Republic of Adjara is allocating about 80 million lari so that our fellow citizens can live in safe and comfortable homes in the near future.

The government of the country, headed by the prime minister, is also participating in the program to improve housing conditions. The bill prepared by the mayor's office of Batumi was supported by the Parliament of Georgia. This means that the mayor of the city will now determine the building coefficient based on the recommendations of experts. This measure is necessary to protect the interests of the city and its inhabitants. This will help us to get rid of disrepair and ugly buildings that disfigure the appearance of our city. The building code, which is in force on the territory of Batumi and the territories attached to it, will be valid until the completion of the development of the master plan for the development of the city.

- What facilities are missing in the city now? What niches, in your opinion, should foreign investors pay attention to?

- We directed serious funding to the development of infrastructure facilities important for the city, including sports infrastructure, including small projects, including the arrangement of mini-football stadiums, children's and sports grounds. The Ministry of Finance and Economy of Adjara also announced the start of work on a project to build a swimming pool. The project will be implemented in the near future. A weightlifting hall is being built on the territory of the Chakvi village, and we also plan to build new kindergartens.

We are currently carrying out construction work at four educational facilities. One of them will be put into operation before the start of the new academic year, and the remaining three - before the end of the year. But the need for new schools and kindergartens is still relevant. For this reason, the Ministry of Education, Culture and Sports of Adjara decided to build three new schools - their construction has already begun. And in the future, it is planned to build several more educational institutions.

The Prime Minister of Georgia also stated that kindergartens and schools will be built in several more municipalities of Georgia. We are glad that the need for children's institutions is growing. Local authorities cooperate with the central government and try to attract new investments in this area. There is also a need to invest in the hotel sector, since already in the middle of the season all hotels are occupied by tourists. There are hotels of international brands in the city, including Hilton, Sheraton, Radisson, Marriott. But the growth in the flow of tourists is so great that it creates an increased burden on the hotel sector. The city needs new world-class hotels.

The investment policy is determined by the Ministry of Finance and Economy. This department is working to attract foreign investment, holds many events in the city and the region in order to provide interested people with all the necessary information. Quite recently, we hosted the Prime Minister of the Czech Republic and representatives of the business circles of this country, and before that, a Polish delegation came on a visit. These two business forums were important for our country, as they made it possible to demonstrate the potential of various areas of the country's economy in the international arena.

Now investment demand has increased several times in all areas, including agriculture. Among the interested countries are 16 leading Western states. The tourism potential is also growing - many visitors come to us from the UK, Germany, Poland and other European countries. To promote our tourism and investment potential, we use platforms such as Deutsche Welle, Euronews and other media. Since 2018, international experts have repeatedly noted a significant increase in investment in Adjara and, in particular, Batumi. This is also clearly confirmed by the data of the State Statistical Service of Georgia. Our country is entering the international arena, and Batumi is one of the locomotives in this direction.

The demand for the so-called elite segment is growing. I am glad that the quality of real estate and tourism services is improving in the region. New elite class facilities are able to meet the highest requirements of customers. I hope that in the near future even more wealthy people will pay attention to our city, and we will be able to offer them the best infrastructure and services.

- Which areas still need additional measures for infrastructure development? Now the Gonio area is actively developing - what changes are planned there?

- The government of Adjara and the central government take an active part in the development of Gonio. Together with them, we are working on investment projects both at the regional and central levels.

The growth of investment proposals is also observed in the industrial zone of Batumi. First of all, we plan to improve the city's infrastructure - to build new roads, to carry out underground and surface communications. And this, in turn, will allow us to improve the investment environment.

Already at the end of this year - the beginning of next year, we will put into operation a bypass road, which will be used by companies involved in international cargo transportation. We will be able to redirect most of the traffic flows to bypass our city, which will unload the central part of Batumi and its suburbs.

I would like to share one more piece of good news - the master plan for the development of Batumi Boulevard has almost been completed. This will allow in the near future to increase not only the tourist, but also the recreational potential of one of the most beautiful boulevards in our country and the entire Black Sea coast.

- What measures does the city administration take to attract more investors?

- We have a very transparent, open relationship with investors, we help them to implement new interesting projects and are ready to adhere to this policy in the future. We welcome investors of any level and are ready to consider any of their proposals. The decisions taken by local self-government bodies testify that our government structures are ready to help implement new projects. A good example is concessions for entrepreneurs during a pandemic. After all, we understood their problems and financial difficulties and in every possible way went to a meeting, provided support to help them overcome them. In the future, we will continue this course and will try to attract as many investments as possible to the country in order to maintain the positive dynamics of recent years.

- What attracts investors and tourists to the city so much and what advantages does Batumi have in comparison with other cities?

- Batumi has a huge advantage is the geographical location. The city has three borders - sea, land and air, this is a significant advantage over such cities as Kutaisi or Zugdidi. We also have developed ski and sea resorts, beautiful beaches of Gonio, Chakvi, Kobuleti, Kvariati-Sarpi and low taxes compared to other countries. Another advantage is the exceptional ease of registering and doing business, helping investors.

This creates a particularly favorable environment for attracting investment and development of the city. It is no coincidence that the city wins in many nominations, including the so-called international safety index and the title of European sports city. In recent years, Batumi has also been recognized as one of the best tourist destinations, and next year we will host the main event in the field of tourism - the tourist Oscar. Batumi also became a member of the international association of creative cities under the auspices of UNESCO (Creative Cities UNESCO), which will also have a positive impact on the investment attractiveness of our city.

- Who is moving to Batumi now? Has the portrait of an expat changed?

- Many of our fellow citizens returned to the country during the pandemic and are now contributing to the development of their homeland. At the same time, remote work formats have become more popular; this allows people who come to us from other countries to move and work in our city. Many of them literally ran away from various regimes, they are creative and use their abilities for the benefit of the development of our city and thus contribute to the development of the country's economy.