Georgia to boost Black Sea beach tourism with environmental protection drive

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Georgian authorities on Saturday decided to impose fines on those who pollute the country's Black Sea beaches at Batumi, a long-time tourist resort.

The decision was made at a weekend government meeting in the resort town, according to reports reaching here.

Those who make the sand beaches dirty will either be fined 500 laris (272 U.S. dollars) or be put into a 24-hour administrative custody.

Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili, who presided over the meeting, said that Batumi would not be attractive to tourists without cleanness. The president said that Batumi would be made into a "golden sand beach" by 2012.

Apart from tourism development for the autonomous region of Adjara, the government meeting also discussed infrastructure and economic growth.

Rising Black Sea levels and increased human activities are the two major threats to the Batumi beaches. Rising sea levels cause erosion against the coastline while uncontrolled discharge of industrial waste water causes depositional pollution.

Batumi has been a tourist resort to Armenians, Turks as well as Georgians. An estimated 100,000 tourists come to enjoy the Batumi beaches each year.

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