Citizens told to follow rules on Caucasus visit

Muscat, April 22 – Oman’s Embassy in Ankara has urged citizens travelling to the three Caucasus countries of Georgia, Azerbaijan and Armenia to follow certain guidelines before they start for holidays. The clarification comes in the backdrop of reports about an incident in which Georgian authorities at airport in Tbilisi did not allow Omani citizens to enter the country. Around six citizens were asked to hand over their passports and wait at the airport on arrival for over two hours. They were asked to return home as they cannot enter Georgia. “No convincing answers are given to the tourists for not allowing them to enter the country,” the travellers were quoted. The embassy said any country has the authority not to allow individuals in certain cases to enter its territory for not disclosing valid reasons of travel.

The embassy added that travellers must disclose the areas in Georgia they would be visiting, have a valid passport, health insurance, an agreement with an accredited tourist company and hotel reservation.
The embassy said that in many cases travellers fail to follow normal procedures while booking the ticket, without coordination with tourism companies in Georgia.
“They often rely on individuals residing in Georgia or some parties with vested interests.”
The embassy said that Omanis are welcomed everywhere for their reputation and hospitable nature, but people should abide by procedures while going on holidays to avoid such incidents.
Nearly seven million visitors travelled to Georgia in 2017, an increase of nearly 19 per cent from the previous year.
A large number of tourists have also been visiting neighbouring countries like Azerbaijan (nearly 20 per cent growth) and Armenia.
The Omani Embassy in Ankara last Thursday said it received a communication about the theft of personal belongings of an Omani citizen in Azerbaijan.
The citizen was directed to go to the police station to lodge a complaint and then inform the embassy for follow-up action.
A recent case of an Omani citizen losing his passport in Azerbaijan is also reported.
The embassy in Turkey said it immediately took necessary measures and contacted the Omani Foreign Ministry and the UAE Embassy in Azerbaijan.
Last year, the Indian Embassy in neighbouring Armenia urged citizens not to travel to Georgia on e-visa as there have been cases of travellers being sent back after waiting at the airport.
The so called Trans-Caucasus countries continue to attract tourists from the GCC and other parts of Asia due to their affordable hotel rates.
According to a representative at Holiday Factory, summer is the high-season for tourists to these countries with temperatures in the range of 40s.

Vinod Nair