Tourism in Adjara: No tourists, no home ...17.04.2012 | 12:36
The second most important city of Adjara - Kobuleti resort - is on the brink of civil unrest. People's homes are taken away. Residents appeared unable to repay loans; they took from the banks for the development of tourism.
Provincial Kobuleti is the most northern resort of Adjara. Like most other resorts in Georgia, it has once received personal attention of President Mikheil Saakashvili who promised the locals heavenly life. Heavenly life was planned through the development of tourism. The resort really has got all possibilities for this. Situation with the service and entertainment was complicated, but this problem can be solved. And most importantly - there was a chance to turn Kobuleti from back of beyond into a thriving resort.
It was planned that the locals will actively participate in the development of the city, hundreds of homes have turned into private hotels and their owners started waiting for guests. But a tourist paradise turned into a nightmare for many residents - they are losing their homes.
The fact is that the townspeople had no money to develop tourism. Transformation of a private home into a hotel requires attachments. Banks gladly gave credits under the project, but the season of the last year has finally finished off the hopes for prosperity. The holiday season has failed, people earn almost nothing, and banks have sharply increased rates and began the process of weaning the real estate from the locals.
These days, the people are being evicted from their homes in Kobuleti. The municipality prepares a mass eviction of people, and their houses will be sold at the auction.
From a legal perspective, everything is right. The houses have been mortgaged for the security of loans, which have been spent to attract tourists. But mostly the tourist business failed. And now the houses are put up for auction. Several luxurious homes are already sold.
People do not refuse to pay debts, but they appeal to the authorities to act as a guarantor to private banks, and asked to set schedule for the payment of debts and the best interest rates on loans.
Debts were formed as early as 2006-2008, when the banks gave long-term loans. Then there were hopes that the Kobuleti would turn into a tourist center, but so far these hopes are not realized. One cannot say that the city is not popular among the holidaymakers, but the proposal is clearly ahead of demand.
After the war in 2008, which occurred just during the holiday season and greatly affected the attendance of Georgian resorts, the banks changed credit conditions, dramatically raising the stakes. As a result, people have no more chance to pay to their borrowers in time.
Houses, which have already been taken away from citizens, are mainly sold to the citizens of Turkey, Armenia and China. One house was bought via internet by a Swede.
The problem is compounded by the fact that banks transfer the debts to other financial institutions, which treat citizens especially cruelly. They do not reckon with their problems and doing their best to take away and sell their houses.
Police has already determined the day of eviction of families. Kobuleti residents are asking for help from the president. Signatures of 3000 residents were collected, they will be sent to the president and the head of Adjara Levan Varshalomidze. A resident of Kobuleti Nino Japaridze is participant of this action. She is the mother of three young children and she is afraid they will find themselves on the street in September.
"The house of my neighbors was bought by a resident of Sweden via Internet. Apparently, my house will be sold the same way and the family of eight souls would live in the open air", Nino Japaridze expressed her sorrow.