Tbilisi (GBC) - Georgian Economy Minister Levan Davitashvili on Monday said the Chinese Government’s introduction of visa-free travel for Georgian nationals would bring economic benefits and promote relations between the countries in the coming years.

“China is a key trade and economic partner of Georgia. Many citizens from our country have travelled to China for business purposes, but it has not been an easy process. I believe the introduction of a visa-free regime will significantly simplify and facilitate this process, leading to an increase in the number of visitors from Georgia to China”, Davitashvili said.

The Minister noted the “very important” decision made by the strategic partner state marked a continuation of the cooperation agreement signed with China last year.

“In September last year, the Georgian side made an important gesture by cancelling short-term visa [requirements] for Chinese citizens, which was a friendly step directly related to the economic progress in our relations. This gesture has translated into increased tourism and has paved the way for more positive developments in our relationship”, Davitashvili said.

He added “technical works” were underway for facilitating the enactment of the visa-free travel “soon”, enabling Georgian citizens to travel to China “without any barriers”.

Georgian Deputy Economy Minister Mariam Kvrivishvili said visa-free travel would make a “direct impact” on airline market and serve as a “great incentive” to increase the number of direct flights and connections between cities and airports in both countries.

“Over the last year, more than 85,000 people have travelled [between the two states]. We believe that this decision will encourage airlines to increase the frequency of flights between the two countries. This, in turn, will provide our country with an additional opportunity to attract more tourists from China, which will have a positive impact on the growth of our tourism industry”, she said.

Kvrivishvili also highlighted the “liberal policy” of the Government and said it was a “key factor” in the success of the domestic tourism and airline industry.

The official added talks were underway with Chinese airlines to increase flight frequency and traffic between the two countries.