After decades of armed conflict and civil unrest, Georgia faced a period of sharp economic decline. Many communities, especially those in regions bordering neighboring countries, were subject to economic shocks and low productivity. To help improve livelihoods in these areas, USAID’s Georgia Zrda Activity works to promote inclusive and sustainable economic growth. The project partners with local organizations, such as the Georgian National Tourism Administration, as well as regional public and private sector stakeholders, to establish destination management organizations (DMOs) in two targeted regions. As part of Georgia’s national tourism development strategy, the DMOs bring management and stewardship of local tourism development back to the regional level, ensuring that local communities benefit the most from these efforts. This multi-sectoral approach to local economic development creates local ownership of tourism development and helps position these regions to become premier tourism destinations in Georgia.
In the Samtskhe-Javakheti region, the Zrda Activity partnered with the Georgian Culinary Academy and the regional tourism working group to develop a cookbook with traditional Meskhetian recipes. In addition to serving as a souvenir for visiting tourists, the book Meskhuri Tabla promotes local gastronomy and raises awareness of the region among domestic and international travelers.
“Meskhuri Tabla is a result of the joint effort by the USAID Zrda Activity in Georgia, the Georgian Culinary Academy, NGO Georgian House, and a group of dedicated stakeholders from Samtskhe-Javakheti who have poured their passion into this project,” explains Brian King, chief of party of the Zrda Activity.
Every recipe was edited, tested, and translated into English and Georgian by chefs from the academy. The culinary academy also organized a cooking and tasting session to verify the recipes and generate excitement for the cookbook. Alongside appetizing professional culinary photos, the cookbook features photos of main attractions and factoids about the region, which aim to spark curiosity about the region and encourage more travelers to visit the area.