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Methodology of determining the agri-tourism potential on Georgia's example.

"All provinces of Georgia, and generally the nature of that country, are the most beautiful on the face of the Earth"

Arthur Leist--German writer, publicist and translator

"Georgia is destined for tourism"

Franchesko Frangialli--Secretary-General of the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO)

Introduction

Agri-tourism has acquired particular popularity in recent years, as a result, in many countries the process of evaluating those countries' or their certain regions' agri-tourism potential has started. Correspondingly, that issue has been more or less reflected in the science literature. However, the scarcity of research is still evident. Criteria for evaluation of agri-tourism potential are practically not researched. Resolving that issue is very important as far as territorial planning is concerned, therefore, the present research has both theoretic and practical significance.

Determining of agri-tourism potential of this or that country is a multifaceted scientific problem and it means the totality of the resources that can be used now or in future for recreation and involvement of tourists in agricultural activities in various rural areas. Therefore, evaluation of agri-tourism potential requires analysis of natural, social-economic and historic-cultural environments. Such integrated researches are connected with various problems, the most important of which are: 1) scarcity and dispersal of data in various scientific-research organizations and agencies and 2) absence of unified methodology that would make evaluation of concrete areas' agri-tourism potential (within the context of natural, social-economic and historic-cultural features) possible.

The evaluation of any agri-tourism potential in Georgia is especially important as it is a country that has a great potential for developing that sort of tourism. Related to agri-tourism can play an important role in the socio-economic development of the country: it can attract more businessmen, investors, tourists, and can draw the interest of many scientists in various fields of science. Although such issues have been discussed in various scientific works (geographic and tourism management), attempts to evaluate tourism, especially the potential agri-tourism, have actually never taken place.

This issue is relevant because the results of a comprehensive evaluation of agri-tourism potential must become the basis for any strategic plans which concerns the socio-economic development of the country; also these results must become the basis for the elaboration of tourist routes across Georgia. All in all, Georgia works effectively use its natural resources in the development of tourism/recreation potential and, as a result to attract scientists, businessmen and investors.

Thus, it is very important to determine all its important scientific features and circumstances, in order to increase the interest of the West in Georgia and to encourage its integration within Europe. The main topic of this paper is thus, to present those valuable and unique features of this country, as well as to evaluate the agri-tourism potential in various administrative districts.

Additionally, by means of a comprehensive analysis, this paper will discuss the methodology used in evaluating the agri-tourism potential, and indicating the natural, socio-economic, and historic-cultural factors of Georgia that could encourage the development of agri-tourism in the country.

Given the aims of this research, the following issues are given particular attention:

* systematization of data accrued in geographic and scientific agencies;

* elaboration of the integral indicators in the evaluation of agri-tourism potential;

* evaluating the main driving forces for agri-tourism potential;

* creating a unified database detailing the characteristics used in the evaluation of agri-tourism potential and its thematic mapping;

* pointing out the main potential functions of agri-tourism.

Object of research

Georgia is a small country and many of its socio-economic and natural features are not very much distinguished when compared with other parts of the world. Georgia holds only 0.65% of Europe's total land space, and its population is only 0.68% of Europe's total number. Due to the smallness of Georgian territory, the country's forested area (0.3%), agricultural lands (38%), protected areas, various types of flora and fauna, and many other characteristics are quite modest in comparison with the rest of Europe; however, Georgia is a distinct, interesting, and unique country, distinguishing itself through many characteristics, due its geographic location, diverse natural conditions, centuries-old history, and to a cultural/traditional diversity.

The development of tourism in Georgia started at the end of XXIXth century and beginning of XXXth century, while the tourism developed only in the second half of XXth century. Currently, tourism in Georgia is entering a new stage of development and the evaluation of Georgia's tourism potential is especially important in this sense (Matchavariani & Pipinashvili, 2002). Nowadays, the various regions in Georgia, that are especially attractive to tourists, possess high agri-tourism potential. Besides, a multitude and original of tourist sites provide the opportunity for combining agri-tourism with other types of tourism.

Research on agri-tourism in Georgia

There are many scientific works dedicated to Georgia's tourism, in which particular attention is given to strategic development of tourism, marketing/ management, planning and managerial issues; these works mostly analyze the existing situation and discuss the role that tourism has in the country's economy (Khelashvili,1992; Barkalaia 2009; Margvelashvili, 2009).

In recent years we can also see scientific works that discuss agri-tourism as well; however, agri-tourism is mainly discussed in conjunction with other types of tourism (Metreveli, 2004; Shublaze, 2004), as particular attention is given to the factors that influence this type of tourism, and to what other stimulus can give to the country's economy, apart from agriculture. There are, thus, works that provide analysis and evaluation for Georgia's tourism/recreational resources, works that analyze the factors which encourage ecotourism, including the agri-tourism market (Barkalaia, 2001; Metreveli, 2004; Tourist-recreational resources of Georgia, 2006). Some of the works include schemes for the tourist/ resort zones in Georgia (Resorts of Georgia, 1987; Resorts and Resort Resources of Georgia, 1989; Gabunia, 2005; Tourist-recreational resources of Georgia, 2006). We can thus say that many scientific works include the evaluation of the country's tourism potential. However, no one has ever researched Georgia's agri-tourism potential separately. Besides, so far tourism (including agri-tourism) resources are rather observed than evaluated throughout the scientific works published so far. Correspondingly, quantitative methods in evaluating agri-tourism potential have not been used, which makes the comparison of tourism potential of various regions quite difficult. That is, mainly because a unified methodology for the evaluation of tourism resources does not exist.

Research methods and initial data

Analysis of the various characteristics that can create the preconditions for development of this form of tourism is important when evaluating agri-tourism potential. The most important characteristics are: environmental conditions, aesthetic surroundings, forms of land ownership, or historic-cultural traditions etc.

Quantitative methods are often used for solving such issues, which is quite problematic due to multiple-factor and multidimensional nature existing parameters. Therefore, statistical and balance methods are often use, a few interpretations being used in this issue as well. The main discussions are about whether such methods are effective or not and about how representative the obtained results really are. Some think this method to be quite accurate as it implies avoiding subjective views, which is why it is often used in various scientific researches (Milkov, 1973; Kobisheva & Ilina, 2001).

Calculating the integral indicators of various values is a practice that has been used in leading international organizations throughout the world for quite some time. That practice has also been introduced in the environment protection sphere, being used, for example, in calculating the index of sustainability of environmental protection. That indicator reflects absolutely different types of parameters like: emissions from enterprises, number and density of population, infrastructure density, and melioration networks (Sustainability Indicators, 1997; Environmental Sustainability Index, 2005).

This method is also used in evaluating tourism potential (Karanevskiy, 2008). Despite the scientific importance of the method, it has few particular negative features. First of all, the method is based on the subjective evaluation of the researchers, and, secondly, different sites can receive similar total scores, which will function to invalidate the diversity of that site. Thus, the use of a methodology which is not based on the subjective evaluation of a researcher is more preferable. In this sense, there is a method, in mathematical statistics, called normalized value, which allows the "redistribution" of equal data in correspondence with equal numerical intervals, in particular within 0-10 or 0-100 etc.

The use of that approach is, thus, more preferable when evaluating other countries'/regions' tourism/recreational potential because the natural, socio-economic and historic-cultural factors are always important for the development of agri-tourism. At the same time, some parameters in those three groups can be "removed" or "added". This will enable us to take into consideration the particularities of a specific country, and ensure in this way that the research is based only on the total sum of particular parameters characteristic to each territory. The discussion on how much better is used this method for the determining agri-tourism potential, and what are the positive and negative sides of this is given below.

We have used many different characteristics in defining tourism potential, which we grouped in three categories; each of these categories incorporate several parameters, in particular: Natural-ecological factors (12 parameters); Sociao-economic factors (6); and Cultural-historic factors (4).

Initially, each of these parameters has been evaluated according to Georgia's administrative districts, after we decided on the main distinguishing features of each district that could play an important role in the development of agri-tourism over there. The next stage consisted of distinguishing the normalized quantities for the above mentioned factors for which an integral parameter was calculated. Additionally, it is possible to define the share of each parameter in the integral parameter.

In order to achieve this, based on the geo-information system (GIS) analysis and overlay procedures several different parameters according to Georgian administrative districts have been determined. These parameters have been grouped in accordance with the three main factors, that have the biggest impact on the agri-tourism potential of Georgia.

The use of data balancing method made possible the definition of normalized indicators (based on all the above-mentioned factors), and then the comprehensive indicators for agri-tourism potential in Georgia's administrative districts.

This laborious work has been implemented on the basis of GIS MapInfo and Excel. Thematic layers of various maps have been created with the use of GIS technology, while, with the use of overlay, the databases of those maps have been interconnected.

The research has been carried out in several stages:

--the systematization of data kept in various geographic agencies (both statistic and cartographic), united database in evaluating Georgia's agri-tourism potential has been formed, which incorporates 67 administrative districts with 30 specific attributes;

--the analysis and visualization of the factors influencing agri-tourism potential: natural, social-economic, historic-cultural;

--defining normalized values, and any integral indicators of factors that influence agri-tourism potential;

--drawing up the maps of agri-tourism potential of Georgia;

--determining the degrees in landscape change and drawing corresponding maps.

Main results of the research

Main Functions of Georgia's Agri-tourism

Agri-tourism can play an important role in the socio-economic development of Georgia. As the list of functions which agri-tourism can perform is quite diverse, throughout the lowing lines we aim to discuss some of the most significant.

The decrease in migration from villages to towns, and from villages to villages. High rates of migration from villages to large towns are characteristic for Georgia. This tendency is clearly visible in the mountainous regions of Georgia for instance during 1959-1989 more than 1 million people moved from villages to towns, which constituted about 37% of the increase in those towns (Jaoshvili 1996). According to the 2002 census, the situation has slightly changed, as the rural population has increased from 44.6% to 47.7% since 1989 (General Population Census of Georgia, 2002). In recent years, with an increasing rural population, the 2002 census revealed that the internal migration processes are becoming more and more intensive. The number of people migrating inside the country amounts to 1.17 million people (General Population Census of Georgia, 2002).

Preserving small villages. Agri-tourism is especially important for mountainous regions such as Racha, Svaneti, Khevsureti, Khevi, Mtiuleti, which experience high rates of depopulation. For example, in Racha the population decreased by almost 35% between the censuses carried out in 1979 and 2002, many villages remaining completely abandoned as result. In settlements where there are no hotels, agri-tourism could be an important stimulus for economic development and to "keep" the local population in those areas.

Decreasing the difference in socio-economic development rates of towns and villages. In recent years important socio-economic changes are taking place throughout the country; however, these changes mainly occur in large cities, while rural areas still face acute social problems.

Preserving and developing agricultural production. This factor is especially important for the villages where the area of agricultural land is small, the incomes of locals are low, and where living standards are lagging behind modern requirements;

Increasing environmental awareness and improving educational possibilities. Many achievements have been accomplished in this regard, but due to limited environmental awareness of the local population there are still many environmental problems in various regions. Apart from the above mentioned functions, agri-tourism could perform other functions such as: to offer small-income families the possibility of spending holidays in ecologically clean areas, to decrease unemployment levels, to popularize and use both traditional and ecologically sustainable forms of farming and much more.

The analysis of some of the mainfactors defining Georgia's agri-tourism potential

Agri-tourism implies recreation for tourists in an agricultural areas their involvement in relevant activities; at the same time, agri-tourism should be "combined" with other types of tourism and it must be some a sort of comprehensive product. Therefore, the possibility of being involved in agricultural activities is the primary function for developing agri-tourism, while all the rest activities perform "non-mandatory" functions. However, it is evident that those additional factors are very attractive to tourists. As for the ecologically clean areas, this factor is essential in all cases.

Thus, the agri-tourism potential of any area includes on one hand, the existence of territories with untouched, aesthetic, balneological or health potential, and on the other hand a multitude of historic-cultural sites and the uniqueness and diversity of local traditional customs. It means many factors influence development of agri-tourism as it implies concurrent use of natural, historic-cultural, and of other resources in rural areas. Corresponding factors that define the development of agri-tourism are diverse and it is important to take them all into account in order to evaluate its potential.

Factors that influence development of Georgia's agri-tourism can be grouped into three main groups: natural, socio-economic, and historic-cultural (see Table 1). As the list below shows, Georgia is rich in natural and cultural sites, in natural-anthropogenic landscapes and traditional culture, which, together with the natural environment, create one system. However, it is also clear that these factors which influence the development of agri-tourism are not equally present in all Georgian regions, and they are quite specific.

The possibility of being involved in diverse agricultural activities is one of the most important factors, which must play an important role in the development of Georgia's agri-tourism. Agricultural production forms the biggest part of the country's material wealth. Additionally, the diversity of natural conditions provides many choices for agricultural activities, especially in the plant-growing sphere. Thus, some districts are best for viticulture, some for fruit-growing, some for market-gardening or other types of agricultural activities in which the tourists could be involved. All districts can offer quite a wide spectrum of such activities; however, most of them are developed in several fields (see Fig. 1). For example in the Kakheti administrative districts the main activities for tourists include participating in the vintage and production of wine according to local customs, harvesting fruits, planting/harvesting grains; in west Georgia, however, apart from grains tourists can also take part in growing subtropical plants, including technical crops.

The situation throughout the mountainous regions is absolutely different, as the most widespread agricultural activities are cattle and sheep-breeding. In some districts there, tourists can also be involved in agricultural activities such as tobacco-cultivation, sericulture, apiculture, cattle shepherding etc. Additionally, there is the possibility of involving tourists in several agricultural activities at the same time. This is possible because every second or fourth household in a village has quite a well-developed farm, which attracts a lot of attention from foreign tourists. The number of such farms/husbandries can go as high as tens of thousands in some of the districts.

The involvement of tourists in vine-growing and wine production should play one of the most important roles in agri-tourism, as Georgia has a long-standing tradition in this sphere and the country is considered to be one of the most ancient sites for viticulture in the world. Besides the existing historic sources, the results of archaeological excavations carried out in various parts of the country show that our country has been one of the most ancient sites of viticulture and wine production. The imprints of vine leaves or of wine vessels excavated in Mtskheta, Trialeti, Alazani valley, Vani, and various locations in Kolkheti, indicate the above mentioned fact. For example, one of the most ancient finds dated back to III-II millennia BC, while recently a 7,000 year old wine vessel has been discovered. It is important to note that various unique types of grapes exist in all regions of Georgia. Vines are present in many landscapes of the country and hypsometric range of their spread is extensive, starting from sea level and ending with 1,200 (1340) meter elevations. The hypsometric range of Vines' is also extensive in west Georgia (Adjara, Guria and Samegrelo regions). Adjara is most noteworthy as, over there vines can be found in all elevations, given the plant is generally found in the rest of the country (Nikolaishvili, 2009). All these factors represent a good precondition for making both viticulture and wine tourism one of the most important types of agri-tourism in Georgia.

[FIGURE 1 OMITTED]

Georgia does not have a lot of ecologically clean agricultural lands. In this regard, the country holds one of the last places in Europe's rankings. Georgia has only 0.87 hectares of ecologically clean agricultural land per person, whereas in many other countries that rate is as high as 5 hectares of ecologically clean agricultural lands per person. However, twelve administrative districts in Georgia have good prospects for involving tourists in bio-farming, that is a very important aspect.

The diversity of natural sites is also important (see Fig. 2). The existence of beautiful and ecologically clean areas, untouched landscapes, diverse natural conditions, including biological and landscape diversity, proximity of hydrologic (rivers, lakes, waterfalls, glaciers), and geomorphologic sites (caverns, erratic boulders, natural bridges, sites with remnants of petrified flora and fauna species), forests, protected areas, resorts and mineral springs, the possibility of observing rare natural areas and events, all play very significant roles as far as Georgia's natural factors are concerned.

[FIGURE 2 OMITTED]

Among the socio-economic factors, we can also name the development of agriculture in particular territories, small villages, household husbandries and farms, bio-farms, infrastructure, number of tourist sites, etc. Also, Georgia is especially noteworthy throughout its historic-cultural factors, which include: the large number of archaeological and architectural sites, the diversity of traditional crafts and handcrafts, various customs, traditions, and their preservation in their original forms.

Despite the small territory that Georgia has, it possesses quite diverse vegetation, which is conditioned by the fact that country is situated around various floristic areas. On a smaller scale, one can encounter the almost complete hypsometric spectrum of vegetation that exists in Europe, starting with the seaside dunes, beaches, and marshes in the west of Georgia and the semi-deserts and steppes in east Georgia, and ending with both the subnival and nival belts throughout the high mountainous regions of the country. Although, it is true that the total number of flora species in Georgia is not very high, and in that the country is behind many other countries because of this, it, nevertheless, holds the 5th place in Europe (Beruchashvili 2000). Georgia is distinguished from the Alps and other mountainous parts of Europe because there is a relict heat-loving flora preserved throughout its mountainous areas from the Tertiary era. The poly-dominant forest in Kolkheti area is a clear indication of this, whereas in Europe the Tertiary era flora was completely wiped out as a result of the Quaternary Glacial Age.

Georgia distinguishes itself through the endemism of its flora as up to 300 species are endemic, which is about 8% of Georgia's overall vegetation (Gagnidze & Davitadze, 2000), placing it ahead of many big European countries. Georgia is also characterized by a high afforestation coefficient (39.8%), and in this regard, it is above the average world rate, being, thus, ahead of many countries (Gigauri, 2000). Additionally, Georgian forests contain important bio-resources, as although in Europe the average amount of phytomass on 1 hectare is about 100 metric tons, in Georgia this indicator is almost twice higher.

Virgin forests are an important part of the natural wealth of Georgia, which make up about 10% of the total area of the country (Beruchashvili, 2000). Nowhere in Europe can anyone encounter such a large number of the virgin forests. The biggest part of Georgian forests is preserved in the mountains, where these perform various functions: soil-protection, water control, environmental, resource provision, and recreational. Also, relict and endemic flora or virgin forests are some of the most important attributes that can attract the interest of European scientists and tourists towards Georgia. Therefore, the elaboration of sustainable mechanisms for protecting and managing forests is important.

Many tourist routes go to glaciers from numerous mountainous villages situated in the heights of the Great Caucasus. There are 786 glaciers in Georgia, and the area of permanent winter is about 555 square meters. Two Georgian glaciers are among the top 10 glaciers in Europe according to their total areas; these glaciers are Lekhziri and Tsaneri whose areas are 35.8 and 28.9 square meters respectively; Lekhziri, in particular, holds the fourth place in Europe.

Furthermore, Georgia distinguishes itself from many countries in the world with its bio- and landscape diversity. It is one of the first countries in Europe as far as landscape diversity is concerned. As for landscape diversity per area, in this regard Georgia holds the 1st place in the whole world. According to calculations, on average there are two types of landscapes per 90.000 [km.sup.2]. In Georgia however there are twenty two types of landscapes per 69.700 [km.sup.2], which is why Georgia is justly called the "World's Landscape Laboratory" (Beruchashvili, 2000).

Western and Eastern Georgia are different from each other in terms of landscape diversity. East Georgia is more diverse than the western part of the country. It is evident on every classification level of landscapes (see Fig. 3). West Georgia is characterized with more diversity than East Georgia with Kakheti being the only exception. It is not surprising that Kakheti is characterized by more diverse natural conditions as there are different physical-geographic areas in the region: a) Ivri highland and Eldari lowland with steppe and semi-desert vegetation; b) Alazani plains and Kakheti Caucasus Mountains with natural-territorial complexes characteristic to Kolkheti area in some districts; c) Tusheti hollow with closed barrier ranges and high-mountain subniveal and nival landscapes. Such stark natural contrasts are not characteristic to other regions in Georgia. Another region that is slightly behind Kakheti in that regard is Abkhazia. Abkhazeti is characterized by very diverse natural conditions like sub-Mediterranean and Kolkheti type natural-territorial complexes, and subnival and nival landscapes. Samtskhe-Javakheti region ranks as far as landscape density is concerned, an indicator which is low in Mtskheta-Mtianeti and Kakheti regions too.

[FIGURE 3 OMITTED]

Even more uncommon and peculiar picture can be seen as a result of analysis of landscape diversity per area unit in administrative districts. In particular, Marneuli district is characterized with the highest diversity, the district is not very big for that circumstance to play an important role, at the same time the biggest part of that district is part of Kvemo Kartli region's plains, then what caused such high diversity in that district? The thing is that Marneuli district also incorporates small parts of Laghluja highland and Loqi range landscapes.

As of 2010 there are fifty protected areas in Georgia, the total area of which is more than 493.000 hectares, which is 7.1% of the total area of the country. Georgia has lower than average rates in Europe as far as number of protected areas is concerned; but the proportion of the total area occupied by the protected areas in relation to the total area of the country is quite high, and in that regard Georgia is ahead of such countries like: Finland, Romania, Bulgaria, Belarus, Russia, Belgium, Greece, Ukraine, Moldova, and Ireland. The fact that the protected areas are situated in twenty administrative districts throughout Georgia is important for development of agri-tourism.

An ecologically clean environment is one of the most important factors, which should encourage the development of agri-tourism in Georgia. The anthropogenic changes that occurred in Georgia have not been as significant as in Western Europe. Therefore, in comparison with many countries of the world, Georgia's environment is less polluted and the number of "hot spots" is relatively smaller. Globally, Georgia is a relatively unaffected "island" of the world (CEO, 2002). What is the basis for such a conclusion? The percentage of areas that experience intensive anthropogenic impact in Georgia is very small. In particular, on the basis of the degree of anthropogenic transformation of landscapes analysis, some specific features have been established. Thus, although the almost completely changed landscapes hold only 1% of the total area of Georgia, and significantly changed areas hold 19%. The considerably and moderately changed landscapes make up about 8% of territory of Georgia, while the greatest area is slightly changed landscapes forms more than a half of Georgia's territory (58%) (Nikolaishvili, Matchavariani & Maisuradze, 2010).

The percentage of pesticide use in Georgia is quite low (0.87 kilograms per hectare), while the percentage of polluted goods and raw materials of the total amount imported of the number of cars per one square kilometre of populated areas (1) (4.53), and fuel use, etc. are also quite low. We can also name many other indicators, like: N[O.sub.2],; C[O.sub.2] phosphorus emissions in urban areas, average pollution rates of water pollution from industries, use of fertilizers, amount of toxic waste, etc. which show that, in comparison with many countries of the world, Georgia's environment is much less polluted.

Of course it does not mean that the country does not have acute environmental problems. Naturally, such problems exist and in some areas they are quite serious. For example: forested areas that are shrinking as a result of illegal lodging, increasing land degradation, air pollution in large cities, and, along the main highways, the pollution of reservoirs due to the use scarce inadequate technologies, decreasing biodiversity, the extinction of certain species, etc. It should also be noted that in some environmental indicators Georgia has nothing to boast. It is also evident that environmental problems in Georgia have more a local nature and their scale is much smaller than the scale of any environmental issues in other countries of the world. Therefore, we can say that Georgia has a high ecological potential which can be used for the development of agri-tourism.

The diversity of historic monuments also plays a significant role in the development of agri-tourism, as Georgia is really renowned for its historic monuments. According to the calculations done by relevant specialists, the total number of archaeological and architectural monuments in Georgia equals to 12,000. Four of them have been included on UNESCO World Heritage Sites list, and in some administrative districts the number of monuments even exceeds 100-200. Although some of those monuments are quite damaged, numerous other residential, fortification, religious, and cult architectural sites are well preserved. Many villages in Georgia, especially throughout the mountains, possess unique characteristics such as: traditional handcrafts, Georgian cuisine, popular holidays, which have been preserved in their "archaic" (original) form to this very day.

The evaluation of Georgia's agri-tourism potential with integral indicators

Analysis of natural, socio-economic, and historic-cultural factors showed that an administrative entity can have good potential due to its natural, ecological, socio-economic, and historic-cultural factors (see Fig. 4). In most cases, administrative districts have several ways of developing their agri-tourism potential, a fact which often complicates the classification of districts in this context. Therefore their main so-called "leading" opportunities should be pointed out.

Agri-tourism potential is a spatial-temporal category, which means that it can be varied not only territorially, but also as far as time period is concerned. The review of Georgia's agri-tourism showed us that it is important to define seasonal prevalence according to types of agri-tourism. For example, Georgian plains have relatively high seasonal prevalence because that area ensures the involvement of tourists in agricultural activities almost all year round. However, the situation is different in the mountains as Mestia, Ambrolauri and Dusheti districts have a big agri-tourism potential, it is clearly based on seasonal prevalence. These districts can use this potential mainly during the warmer period of the year because of the difficult orographic conditions as well as a stricter climate and limited vegetation period. Additionally, although There are no villages in the subalpine and alpine fields, which are situated higher than 2.000 meters above sea level, tourists can still be involved in agri-tourism in those regions, for example through cattle- shepherding.

[FIGURE 4 OMITTED]

Conclusion

The use of the normalized value method enabled us to define Georgia's agri-tourism potential according to administrative districts.

Based on a comprehensive analysis, methodology in defining agri-tourism potential has been elaborated, enabling us to define the high and low agri-tourism potential of various administrative districts. The results obtained can be favourably used in territorial planning. Preceding from this, it is necessary to note that this method is representative in evaluating the agri-tourism potential of different territories.

Some specific features in the spatial distribution of agri-tourism potential distribution, as well as and peculiarities in relation to the uneven territorial distribution of agri-tourism potential in Georgia have been revealed by using calculations based on a big amount of data. In particular, various administrative districts have different agri-tourism potentials. One and the same administrative district can have a good potential due to have natural, ecological, socio-economic, and historic-cultural factors. However, in most cases, administrative districts have several ways of developing their agri-tourism potential.

At the same time, one of the above-mentioned factors is prevalent in some administrative districts, while in others other factors may be more important. For instance, Dusheti, Mestia and Ambrolauri districts have a high natural potential, whereas Dusheti and Gori districts--a high historic-cultural potential. However, there are also districts which possess all three factors equally, such as the Dusheti district.

Lastly, maps have been elaborated for of agri-tourism potential according to Georgia's administrative districts by using of geo-information technologies, which allowed us to compare the agri-tourism potentials of various districts by taking into consideration quantitative and qualitative indicators.

Received February 18, 2011. Resubmitted May 17, 2011

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Dali NIKOLAISHVILI *, Lika MATCHAVARIANI *, Otar DEMETRASHVILI *

* Ivane Javakhishvili Tbilisi State University, Faculty of Exact & Natural Sciences, Department of Geography; 31. Chavchavadze ave., Tbilisi, Georgia; likageotsu@hotmail.com
Table 1 Main factors influencing the development of Georgia's
agri-tourism

#     Natural and          Social-economic      Historic-cultural
      environmental        factors              factors
      factors

1     Forest cover (%)     Presence of          Presence of
                           agricultural         archaeological
                           lands (%)            monuments

2     Presence of          Development of       Presence of
      resorts              infra-structure      architectural
                           (density of          monuments
                           network)

3     Presence of          Presence of small    Presence of modern
      mineral springs      villages             cultural monuments

4     Presence of          Presence of          Diversity of
      thermal waters       household            popular holidays
                           husbandries

5     Presence of          Presence of bio-
      therapeutic mud      farms
      sources

6     Presence of          Presence of
      glaciers             tourist agencies

7     Presence of caves

8     Landscape
      diversity

9     Presence of unique
      and rare natural
      sites/natural
      monuments

10    Presence of
      protected areas

11    Presence of
      species of animals
      included in
      Georgia's Red Book
      of Threatened
      Species

12    Presence of
      species of plants
      included in
      Georgia's Red Book
      of Threatened
      Species
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Author:Nikolaishvili, Dali; Matchavariani, Lika; Demetrashvili, Otar
Publication:Journal of Tourism Challenges and Trends
Article Type:Report
Geographic Code:4EXGA
Date:Jun 1, 2011
Words:5720
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