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« Who Does The U.S. Embassy in Tbilisi Represent? (Part 2) | Main | The Hotel Alex, Gagra -Wednesday, May 3 »

Investor Tour to Abkhazia

Last week several investors, Mitch Hancock of Canada and an American representing several deep pocket and institutional investors, joined me on a tour of Abkhazia.  We met with officials from the government, including Prime Minister Shamba.  

First, we spent a few days in Moscow before heading to Sochi and Abkhazia.  Moscow was full of people for the Victory Day holiday weekend.  The streets in the center were blocked off to vehicular traffic on May 9 and with warm and sunny weather, millions of people were out to enjoy the day.  My guests were really impressed with the parades and the spectacle of Moscow on Victory Day.

May 10, we flew to Sochi and traveled to Abkhazia.  We drove down to Sukhum from the border. Both visitors were impressed with the beautiful coastline northwest of Gagra.  We stopped several times to take photos. On the way, we stopped at Pitsunda where I showed them the resort.  We spent about an hour walkng the grounds and beach of the resort.  The comments were very positive about the prospects for development at Pitsunda and nearby.  We had a long talk about how to draw in large investors for what appears to be mutliple resorts at the grounds of the current resort. 

After we arrived in Sukhum, we had dinner at Aqvafurta and talked about what we had seen in Abkhazia.  The next afternoon, I showed Novy Afon Monastery and Stalin's dacha to my guests.  The views from the dacha of the central coastline are very dramatic and both of my guests remarked on the beauty and development potential of the location.  

Later that day, we met with Prime Minister Shamba and his advisors in his office.  Tim Post traveled from Krasnodar for the meeting and he and I spoke about the English language tourist application that we have developed for Abkhazia.  Then the American investor spoke about the lack of credit and debit card processing and potential solutions in Abkhazia.  He also said that there was a dearth of English language information on the investment projects in the Republic of Abkhazia.  Then Mitch Hancock made a presentation on Canadian playground equipment.  Earlier, he read about President Bagapsh's interest in acquiring quality playground equipment for Abkhazia's children.  Mr. Hancock believes there are multiple opportunities to pursue in Abkhazia and said that if the government was prepared, he would put together proposals for modernizing the port facility.  Mr. Hancock has a long international track record working with transportation and shipping.

We planned on a helicopter trip to see Abkhazia's coastline and mountains, but weather did not permit. Still we spent several days in Abkhazia and everyone was impressed with the opportunities there.  Both of my North American guests felt that there is tremendous potential for development in Abkhazia.  There were favorable comments about the leadership "They plainly understand the issues and want their country to develop" and about individual projects "this is a winner" (on Pitsunda).  The spectacular beauty also impressed both visitors. After we visited Novy Afon, favorable comparisons to the southern California coastline were made.  All three of us believe there was the potential for a 5 star resort there.

I have spoken to both parties since they departed several days ago.  Mr. Hancock is interested in pursuing opportunities in import/export,shipping, port redevelopment and air service.  His American counterpart is talking to  investors in the US about real estate development projects in Abkhazia.

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