Thursday, December 01, 2005

Boom or bust in Batumi


It's difficult to judge if Adjara's integration with Georgia is really bringing prosperity to Batumi. My fixer/translator Irakli seemed very positive about the future. He said the past summer season was a bumper one for tourists - mostly from within Georgia. With unemployment perhaps the region's biggest problem, many locals rely on making an income during the summer and stretching that out for the rest of the year. Certainly along the beach I saw some new cafes and a hotel is undergoing renovation. Irakli proudly showed me a new electronic big screen erected near the beach and a fountain. Strolling around the administrative heart of the city is also pleasant but you don't have to stray too far to see that Batumi badly needs an overhaul. Street lighting, footpaths and drainage are random. A quick downpour has one thinking about Wellington boots and large potholes turn roads into slalom courses. Looking up at the decrepit exteriors of many apartment blocks one wonders about life inside.

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