TBILISI, DFWatch – The number of visitors to Georgia is increasing.

The latest figures from the Interior Ministry show that the number of foreigners who visited Georgia in the first five months of 2012 was half of what it was during all of 2011.

2 822 363 persons visited Georgia in 2011, while 1 299 685 people visited Georgia in first five months. In May 2012 there were 321 164 visitors, which is 57 percent more than in the same period last year. This is more than it was during the so-called ‘resort season’ last year.

“In general the number of visits has increased by 48.2% as an average monthly growth in the first five months of the calendar year,’ a statement by the ministry reads.

The majority of visitors in first five months came from Turkey, as last year. There was more than a doubling, 102 percent growth, in Turkish visitors. The second most visitors came from Azerbaijan (+26.3%), followed by Armenia (+38.2%), Russia (+99.2%), Ukraine +20.5%) and Iran (+109%).

The ministry noted an increase in visits from EU countries, which exceeds the number of Ukrainian and Iranian visitors in May. Particularly Moldovans and Austrians came in increasing numbers, with a 74 and 71 percent increase respectively.

The Interior Ministry also notes an increase in Russian visitors, which it relates to the cancelling of visa requirements for all Russians in February.

“This is proved by the example of Larsi border checkpoint where the number of Russian citizens entering Georgia has tripled in March and even became more prominent in April when the number increased fourfold,’ the ministry writes, adding that the trend continued in May.

“The number of visitors from the Russian Federation in May has increased sharply and in sum total reached 99.2% to compare with the same period of previous year. From the point when a visa free regime was brought in for citizens of Russia, the index of visa free regime effectiveness has reached 85%.”

Georgia allows visa free visits from almost 80 countries worldwide.