Tourism & COVID-19 in 2020: An Overview

The COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted tourism all over the world, with Georgia no exception in this regard. With travel between countries massively restricted, the country received a paltry number of international visitors in 2020. In our May update, we provided an overview of the first lockdown (March-May 2020) and the corresponding first wave of support measures afforded to the tourism sector. In this update, we provide an overview of how the tourism sector in Georgia fared for the remainder of 2020.

After the first lockdown ended on May 22, businesses in the tourism industry in Georgia started to prepare for the summer season. On June 15, domestic tourism reopened, albeit with mandatory COVID-related safety requirements in place. Meanwhile, regular international flights were initially supposed to resume from July 1. However, this resumption was subsequently postponed several times, and such flights did not return on the intended scale for the rest of the year. According to the latest announcement, regular international flights are now to resume from February 2021. These frequent changes in plans have added even more uncertainty to the troubled tourism sector.

Thus, the summer tourist season comprised exclusively domestic tourists, which inevitably failed to compensate for the loss of international visitors. From September, the epidemiological situation in the country began to worsen alarmingly. In order to keep the number of COVID-19 cases down, the GoG announced a second two-month-long lockdown on November 28, with slightly less stringent measures than were applied in the first lockdown. During this period, hotels in winter resorts were only allowed to function as COVID-19 quarantine centers, and the operation of ski lifts was suspended, resulting in a completely lost winter season for Georgian tourism.

On November 26, the GoG extended some of the support measures for the tourism industry into 2021 and modified some of the measures for the rest of 2020. Specifically, a concession of the originally deferred property tax was made for firms in tourism-related industries (GEL 45 mln), as well as a tax write-off of the previously deferred four-month income tax payments from 2020 (GEL 20 mln). Moreover, interest subsidies for bank loans of hotels were extended for a further six months.

Hotel Price Index

In December 2020, in Georgia, the hotel price index1 increased by 4.9% compared to November 2020. The 3-star, 4-star and 5-star hotel price index increased by 4.2%, while for guesthouses, the price index increased by 7.4%.

In December 2020, compared to December 2019, hotel prices in Georgia decreased by 12%. The prices of 3*, 4*, 5* hotels decreased by 13.6%, while the prices of guesthouses decreased by 15.9%.

Average Hotel Prices

In Georgia, the average cost of a room2 in a 3-star hotel was 123 GEL per night in December 2020, while the average cost of a room in a 4-star hotel in Georgia was 197 GEL per night and the average cost of a room in a guesthouse3 was 70 GEL per night.

The average cost of a room in a 5-star hotel in Georgia in December 2020 was 352 GEL per night. In Guria, the average price was 440 GEL, followed by Tbilisi - 410 GEL, Kakheti - 397 GEL and Samtskhe-Javakheti – 377 GEL.

04 February 2021 19:49