Crises around Concepts of Hospitality in the Mountainous Region of Svaneti in the North of Georgia
2. Literature Review
2.1. Svaneti as a Special Cultural Area in Georgia
2.2. General Challenges for Tourism Development in the Svaneti Region as Exemplified by the Village Community of Ushguli
2.3. Effects of Over-Shaping the Livelihoods of Mountain Populations in Georgia
3. Theoretical Approach to the Field and Methods
4. Some Effects of the Development of Tourism in Ushguli
4.1. Brief Description of Tourism in Ushguli
4.2. Significance and Effects of Online Booking Systems
4.3. Comments on Booking and Travel Platforms
“I loved everything about my stay [...] in Ushguli. The hosts were super nice […]. Rooms are of decent size and very clean! The entire family was accommodating and caring. I felt like I was part of the family. One of the family members, who is normally based in Tbilisi but spends his summers in Ushguli, offered us a free tour to local sites, told us stories about Ushguli […]. He also offered us free horseback riding tour. The breakfast was delicious, especially home-made pancakes and corn bread with cheese which was exceptional. […] The hosts gave us a great recommendation for the dinner, too. In short, I wish I could have stayed longer and explored more! There are no private bathrooms. But the common areas and bathrooms are extremely well kept and clean. I did not feel much discomfort because of that. Plus, stunning views and incredible hospitality take all of your concerns away!” (Travel platform comment ‘Ushguli’, text corpus number 25, August 2019, accommodation type ‘homestay’, couple travellers)
“The hosts of this property are truly wonderful people. They live a real Ushguli lifestyle and we loved sharing their guesthouse with them. It was like we were part of their family. Like every place in Ushguli...this Guesthouse can be a bit of a challenge to drive to. The roads in Ushguli are generally pretty bad (you are definitely going to need a strong 4WD to make this journey) and are even worse if it is snowy, wet and muddy. Our room in […] was very clean and well maintained. The shared bathrooms and toilet were close by...but when we were there unfortunately there was no hot water...in fact there was no water in the shower or toilets at all. The only water available was from a spring downstairs near the entrance to the Guesthouse. This was not the fault of our hosts...it is just part of life sometimes in Ushguli. Our host included us in a family ‘drinking session’ where we got to listen to some authentic Georgian singing and we also got to taste some authentic Georgian Cha Cha...my face is still pretty numb from that!!! We had delicious meals prepared for us and we always felt very welcome. […] If you come to Ushguli...and you really should visit this place...then you need to accept the fact that it is a small isolated village high in the mountains. There will sometimes be a break in the electricity and sometimes the water pipes might be out of action...but this is why you have decided to visit this amazing community.” (Booking platform comment ‘Ushguli’, text corpus number 13, April 2019, accommodation type ‘homestay’, single traveler)
“I have travelled extensively and I must say that this is the worst place I have ever had the misfortune to stay. All I can say is avoid. Pay extra to get some comfort and respect. The rooms are horrendous. Smaller than single makeshift beds, the rooms are open without segregation so you are effectively sharing with strangers. Unfortunately, I was adjacent to the staff room and they spoke loudly with each other until gone 2am and then again from 5am. When challenged they were abusively shouting at me in Georgian and one literally slammed a door in my face. The shared bathroom facilities are the worst I have seen in many a year. My only advice would be to AVOID. Great yogurt at breakfast though.” (Booking platform comment ‘Ushguli’, text corpus number 24, June 2019, accommodation type ‘homestay’, single traveller)
“This guesthouse is at the top of the village and has the best view of Shkhara mountain from the balcony and the village in the other direction. We made two horse treks with […] the owner and made it up to the Shkhara glacier head with our eight y/o daughter the second time. [His wife] […] is an excellent cook so you get to experience real Svan cooking, and she even showed us milking the cows. You get to experience real village life in Ushguli—much more authentic than Mestia. The hosts are lovely. A must for anyone who wants to see the real Georgia.” (Travel platform comment ‘Ushguli’, text corpus number 6, July 2017, accommodation type ‘homestay’, family travellers)
“Opposite the house is a stable so early morning cows and dogs will probably wake you if you have one of the two rooms in the front […] The guesthouse is not really located in Ushguli. It is in Zhibiani, a small community. This practically means that if your driver drops you in the centre of Ushguli, you have to carry your luggage almost a kilometer over a hill. There is also a problem with lamps at night. The owners have installed high efficiency bulbs, which do not work when electricity fluctuates. Expect that you will have only candle light in the bathroom at night […]. Yet the biggest problem is […] [the] owners’ daughter […] who is designated to communicate in English. Unfortunately, she treats guests with disdain, as if they were unruly children at school.” (Travel platform comment ‘Ushguli’, text corpus number 22, August 2019, accommodation type ‘homestay’, single traveller)
“We all experience the cold, unfriendly, uninterested Svaneti people while hiking the Mestia- Ushguli route. This guest house is another example of ‘please let us get your money after breakfast so you can pack your bags and leave” attitude.’ (Travel platform comment ‘Ushguli’, text corpus number 3, June 2016, accommodation type ‘homestay’, group traveller)
“When we asked about transportation the lady there tried to charge us twice as much as anyone else for a drive back to Mestia. All these people want is your money, they practically say it. And the beautiful views and nice rooms just can’t cover for it.” (Booking platform comment ‘Ushguli’, text corpus number 20, August 2018, accommodation type ‘homestay’, group travellers)
“Tourism is good for Ushguli, of course! Do you know what it was like here years ago? More and more people moved away because it was no longer possible to live here. No doctor, no functioning street and fewer and fewer children. Since the tourists are coming, the state is at least investing in the street. But these people—unfortunately many of them have no manners. No matter what I do, whether I look after the cows or just sit here on my bench and look, I always get photographed. What are people thinking? We are not animals in a zoo. I can’t say what I’m really thinking, because then the tourists wouldn’t come. That’s how it is.” (Interview permanent resident, text corpus number 41, August 2019)
“Cheaper, cheaper, cheaper, many think that just because you are here in Georgia, you can trade. But they have no idea what life costs in Georgia. I get 400 USD for an ox, but transporting the meat to Tbilisi already costs 200 USD. All the work with agriculture is not worth it, we can’t earn anything with it. Without the overnight stays, we can’t earn money for the doctor, for the children’s education. But the prices are too low—12, 13 or 14 USD for an overnight stay and that is already too much for many people. We have rebuilt the showers. The material alone, which we had brought from Tbilisi, cost 800 USD, including transport. And then they write that the showers don’t have enough pressure. Where is the pressure supposed to come from? The water comes from the mountains, there is no station that generates the pressure. The people have no understanding. And what about life in winter! But it’s good that they come, because we don’t want to leave here either. We are grateful for this place and are happy that others want to visit it. Ushguli!“ (Interview permanent resident, text corpus number 17, June 2017)
5. Discussion and Conclusions
Informed Consent Statement
Data Availability Statement
Conflicts of Interest
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|Homestay||Holiday Flat/Tiny House||Hotel/Pension|
|Operator||hosts live all year round |
|vendors live in Ushguli only in summer||vendors live in Ushguli |
only in summer
|involvement in local |
social and cultural
|high involvement: providers |
engage in farming and
horticulture with seasonal
work, keep livestock such as
cows, horses and pigs,
maintain year-round social and cultural life
|medium to low involvement, somewhat higher in summer due to accommodation of own family members|
|cold and hot meals||at all places available in comparable quality: |
traditional Georgian and Svan dishes,
breakfast and dinner on a half-board basis are common
|single, double and |
|available throughout in comparable quality, size and additional equipment |
such as wardrobe, tables, chairs or armchairs depending on the accommodation
|external showers and washrooms||available in all types of accommodation|
|day room||depending on the |
|available, depending on the accommodation, on the terrace or an open space in front of the house||available|
|external dining room||depending on the |
|available, depending on the accommodation, on the terrace or an open space in front of the house||available|
|additional services (horse rental, hiking guide, arrangement of travel to/from Mestia)||depending on the accommodation, can be organized or available|
|Experience of Authenticity |
|Lack of Authenticity, |
Mass Tourism Experiences
|food and drink|
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Applis, S. Crises around Concepts of Hospitality in the Mountainous Region of Svaneti in the North of Georgia. Tour. Hosp. 2022, 3, 416-434. https://doi.org/10.3390/tourhosp3020027
Applis S. Crises around Concepts of Hospitality in the Mountainous Region of Svaneti in the North of Georgia. Tourism and Hospitality. 2022; 3(2):416-434. https://doi.org/10.3390/tourhosp3020027Chicago/Turabian Style
Applis, Stefan. 2022. "Crises around Concepts of Hospitality in the Mountainous Region of Svaneti in the North of Georgia" Tourism and Hospitality 3, no. 2: 416-434. https://doi.org/10.3390/tourhosp3020027