Changes in Hotel Management During the COVID-19 Pandemic and Post-pandemic Periods in Georgia
Keywords:Covid-19, pandemic, post-pandemic period, tourism, hotel industry
The COVID-19 pandemic, which caused significant human loss, significantly damaged several economic sectors, primarily tourism and its significant segment, the hotel industry. In Georgia in 2019, before the pandemic, tourism reached its highest indicators since its independence. International arrivals totaled 7,7 million, with 5.1 million tourist visits; tourism accounted for 8.4% of the gross domestic product (GDP), while the number of people engaged in the industry was 11.6% of all employees in the country. By the end of the first year of the pandemic, the number of international tourist visits to Georgia decreased by 78.5% (2020), and 66.0% of hotels and food sector facilities in the country ceased operations. Several hotels were used as quarantine spaces and "Covid hotels" during the pandemic, per government decree. To overcome the crisis, targeted measures were developed, envisaging support and special activities as well as financial benefits for the subjects of the tourism industry. Nevertheless, the crisis management plan could have been better and did not foresee the alterations necessary after the pandemic, which caused significant consumer behaviour changes in the hotel industry. Now customers give priority to compliance with hygiene and safety norms. However, most hospitality industry organisations in Georgia need more resources for implementing new technologies that meet tourists' needs. The pandemic has aggravated the problem of staff outflow and redistribution to other sectors. In the post-pandemic period, an increase in demand for medical and health-improving tourist programmes and ecological and adventure tours is expected, which should be provided with appropriate accommodation facilities.
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