Mountains reflected in an alpine lake near Ushguli in the Svaneti region of Georgia
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Sustainable and responsible travel in Georgia

Maysie Dee

Contributing writer

Georgia is a charming country with an abundance of beautiful and historic places to visit, and a unique blend of European and Asian influences. But it’s only recently that Georgia has become popular among a wider range of international tourists. This puts the country in a fortunate position to plan for the future, and ensure that their rich natural resources are not over-exploited in the coming years.

The lofty peaks and rich valleys that dot the country are perfect for visitors to enjoy – along with abundant lakes, rivers, and classical monuments. It’s only natural that Georgia will be seeing more and more travellers each year.

With this consideration, in 2021, Georgia’s Ministry of Economy and Sustainable Development devised a 10-year strategy to develop ecotourism. Among the areas under development or protection are:

  • National forests and creation of new hiking trails and shelters

  • Conservation of natural resources

  • Agritourism, promotion of traditional artisanal products

  • Preservation of Georgian wine making processes

The overall plan ensures that the expansion of tourism remains in harmony with the natural environment and with the country’s cultural legacy.

Rural tourism in Georgia

Georgian culture embraces the concept of “Treat the guest as a gift from God.Therefore, Georgians love to shower visitors with food and drink, lively conversation, and if you’re lucky, music and dancing, too!

Sometimes it happens naturally… you might meet someone who invites you to visit their family or relatives in a remote village, and they might hold a supra (festive dinner) in your honour. But for those who don’t get a spontaneous invitation, rural tourism is under development in Georgia.

Georgia has only a handful of major cities, so most tourists find that their time exploring Georgia inevitably takes them into remote rural areas. These secluded areas have unique customs and ways of life that can be shared with visitors.

When done sustainably, inviting guests to experience these cultural habits serves to reinforce their value for the host Georgians as well, strengthening their cultural identities.

Several eco-tourism companies in Georgia plan thoughtful and enriching tours and retreats to rural areas. On these tours you might enjoy wine making, cooking classes, planting trees, tours of the local tea route and hazelnut plantations, and more. As a tourist, your participation can help those in remote areas continue their way of life and thrive locally.

Wine-making and wine tours

Almost everyone in Georgia loves wine and loves to make their own! One of the most glorious ways to experience and help Georgians preserve their culture is to take a wine tour through Kakheti, Georgia’s traditional wine district.

A journey to the wine region takes you through lush scenery, and once you arrive, you’ll be enthralled to see the processes of making Georgian wine firsthand – not to mention sampling the many varieties available.

Protected areas in Georgia

Georgia has four protected areas under the UNESCO World Heritage Sites designation, with fourteen other sites on the pending list. These initial steps are important for Georgia, as the country strives to protect its biodiversity and preserve its historical monuments. 

The areas include three cultural sites and an environmental site that are open to the public for touring:

Mtskheta Region

The home of Orthodox Christianity in Georgia, with cathedrals and monasteries established between the 6th and 11th centuries.

Gelati Monastery

A 12th-century monastery and educational centre in the Imereti Region. It's being restored to preserve its original features, still actively hosts religious functions, and is open to conscious tourism.

Upper Svaneti Region

A remote valley in the northern Caucasus Mountains of Georgia, home of Svans, a Georgian ethnic subgroup. The valley has over 200 unique stone defence tower structures, present in villages throughout the region, protected as historical monuments. 

Colchic Rainforests and Wetlands

The Western and coastal region of Georgia, including the Colchic area (Black Sea Basin) in what was once an ancient empire from the Bronze Age until the 15th century. These wetlands contain rare peat bogs, and deciduous Colchic rain forests, and are an important migratory area for several bird species.

Support local sustainability initiatives

Support local social enterprises 

Many areas of Georgia have created collective groups (usually women’s groups, but not always) who work together to preserve traditional handicrafts using natural ingredients/products. Supporting these social enterprises helps Georgia to remain authentic and culturally intact.

There are also many eco-friendly retreat resorts, lodges, and cabins located within the beauty of nature. Staying at these properties while travelling is a great way to give back to the areas you explore around the world.

Use small tours and local guides

The best way to ensure that Georgia stays unspoiled and clean is to move around in small groups rather than with larger tours. Many local companies and guides plan cooperative local tours to the various regions of the country, keeping in mind what the area can reasonably manage.

Buy locally-made products

If you want to support the local population, buying a handmade item from Georgia keeps old artisanal ways alive. Throughout the country, you’ll find handicrafts, from ceramics to enamelware to hand-knitted woollen socks and hats available for purchase. 

Georgian farmers have also revived the art of tea growing and there are many black, green, and fruit teas available in markets and at fairs. On a small scale, Georgian homesteaders also produce exotic rose and jasmine oils, handmade soaps and other natural products.

Try a homestay instead of a hotel

Georgia offers many rich experiences through an authentic homestay. When you stay with a family, you have the chance to see how rural life is lived, while learning new customs or trying new skills. Or, you can just enjoy being treated to fresh, wholesome food in rejuvenating air and a natural environment.

Conserve water

Georgia is blessed with abundant water that cascades down from the mountains each year. Although there seems to be enough to go around, be mindful of your water usage and try to conserve it wherever possible. Consider bringing a reusable water bottle instead of buying single-use plastic bottles.

Encourage fair-trade practices

Georgia is so new to the tourism field that it’s easy for tourists to take advantage of well-meaning locals who go out of their way to be helpful. Please be mindful of others’ time and energy, and don’t just assume that because you’re a foreigner, you should get good “deals” at every turn.

To this end, respectable and conscientious groups devise tours that are aware of this, making sure that their drivers are treated equitably, and that tourism doesn’t involve exploitation from either side.

Eat local food

Georgians, entering their post-Soviet world, have welcomed a few international restaurant chains to the region. That said, most tourists find that even local Georgian fast food (burgers, pizza, etc.) is made with more wholesome ingredients than the big names. You can support small family-owned food stalls and restaurants by avoiding big international chains and choosing to eat like the traditional locals do.

Support the local dog and cat populations

Georgia has a well-fed and generally mild-mannered population of stray dogs and cats that are cared for by the community. You might even notice the little shelters scattered around the city for dogs and cats to enjoy during cold or inclement weather. Feel free to contribute leftover scraps from your meals with the animals who share the Georgian streets.

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Maysie Dee

Author - Maysie Dee

Maysie Dee is a freelance writer, content editor, and recipe creator. She and her husband have travelled across the world for decades as natural product consultants, collecting stories along the way.

Last Updated 9 March 2024

Colourful buildings and churches in Tbilisi, Georgia


Located at the crossroads of Europe and Asia, Georgia offers a diverse and stunning natural landscape, intriguing history and good food and wine.