What to Know About COVID-19 and Georgia's Tourism Industry

Last updated August 7, 2020, at 5:30 p.m.

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COVID-19 in Georgia
Resources for Business Interruption and Recovery
Research/Articles for Reference


COVID-19 in Georgia

Explore Georgia's tourism industry partners may use the following as an informational resource and recommended messaging regarding COVID-19 for media and visitors. Please contact Tourism Content Manager Lindsay Isaacs at lisaacs@georgia.org or at 404-962-4835 with any questions.

    COVID-19 Information and Resources
    • Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: COVID-19 Information for Travel
    • Georgia Department of Health: COVID-19
    • Atlanta Hartsfield-Jackson Airport: COVID-19 Update
    • COVID-19 hotline: The State of Georgia has a COVID-19 hotline: (844) 442-2681. If you believe that you are experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 or have been exposed to the novel coronavirus, please contact your primary care doctor or an urgent care clinic. Please do not show up unannounced at an emergency room or health care facility.
    Georgia's Confirmed Cases

    On March 12, Governor Kemp and the Georgia Department of Public Health (DPH) announced a daily status report page for confirmed COVID-19 cases in Georgia. 

      Impact on Georgia's Travel Industry

      Dashboard

      The Explore Georgia team has created a dashboard to give an overview of the impact of COVID-19 on Georgia's tourism industry. In this dashboard, you will find the latest statistics for the state's tourism industry along with insights into visitor engagement with the Explore Georgia brand. Together, we can keep Georgia top of mind with visitors and prepare our state for a strong recovery.

      Partner Readiness Survey

      We know that recovery looks different for each and every one of you, and can change from moment to moment. We also know you face uncharted territory in reopening businesses and welcoming visitors. As we develop and evolve our state-wide recovery strategy, we want to ensure that we are moving neither ahead of nor behind you, but alongside you and your communities.

      The Explore Georgia COVID-19 Recovery Partner Readiness Survey was created to understand the current state of tourism communities throughout the state. This particular survey is intended and designed specifically for Georgia's primary destination promoters – the principal organization of a city, county, district, town, township, metropolitan area, or region that markets and promotes its respective destination. These include CVBs, DMOs, chambers of commerce, tourism offices, and other government entities and non-profit groups responsible for tourism marketing. 

      The following is a summary of the survey results, as well as detailed summaries for each of the nine Explore Georgia regions, describing their tourism-related businesses’ overall readiness to receive visitors.

      Technical Reports

      Travel Impact During COVID-19
      • On July 6, Gov. Kemp introduced the Georgia Safety Promise. Businesses that commit to the Georgia Safety Promise voluntarily agree to follow the latest guidelines from the Governor’s Office and the Georgia Department of Public Health - including promoting social distancing, wearing face coverings, cleaning surfaces, and washing and sanitizing hands.

      • As of April 30, Georgia’s shelter in place orders expired for the majority of Georgia businesses, and as of June 11, the shelter in place order expired for Georgians over the age of 65, unless they are medically fragile or fall into a category as described on page 6 of Executive Order 06.29.20.02 - Empowering a Healthy Georgia. However, Georgians are urged to stay home whenever possible, and businesses must continue to operate with the state’s social distancing, sanitation guidelines, and operational requirements to keep customers and employees safe.

      Additionally:

      • Starting July 1, live performance venues may reopen, subject to directives available here.
      • Starting June 1, bars and nightclubs can reopen, subject to directives available here.
      • On June 12, amusement park rides, traveling carnivals, water parks, circuses, and other temporary amusement rides can reopen, subject to directives available here.
      • Banquet facilities, private event facilities, and private reception venues have new directives for operating that align with restaurants, available here.
      • Georgia's public health state of emergency remains in effect through 11:59 p.m. on September 10, 2020.
      • Georgia's beaches are open, but visitors should follow CDC social distancing guidelines. Full details on the order can be seen here. Ferry service to Cumberland Island has resumed.
      • Federal restrictions on travel from China, Iran, the Schengen Area, the United Kingdom, and the Republic of Ireland to the United States are in effect until terminated by the President. Details and links to the official proclamations can be found on the State Department's website
      • For country-specific travel guidance, please visit the CDC travel information page.
      • Due to the rapidly changing international response to COVID-19, Delta Airlines and other carriers are adjusting daily flights. For details, visit the Delta Airlines News Hub.
      • Travelers using the Atlanta Hartsfield-Jackson Airport can find updates and a FAQ on the airport website.
      Key Messaging
      • The health and safety of Georgians and our visitors is the highest priority for Georgia’s tourism industry.
      • On Feb. 28, 2020 Governor Brian P. Kemp announced a coronavirus task force to address Georgia’s preparation and response to cases of COVID-19.
      • Following Governor Kemp’s April 3 – 13, 2020, Executive Order: Should My Business Remain Open?
      • The Georgia Department of Public Health maintains an up-to-date website with details on all COVID-19 cases and deaths reported in the state.
      • Explore Georgia is actively monitoring developments and information surrounding the virus’ potential impact on travel to and within the state.
      • With the situation evolving rapidly, we encourage our visitors traveling to and within the state to follow the most up-to-date information and guidance offered by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Georgia Department of Health, and local authorities.
      • We have activated the consumer-facing Explore Georgia Travel Alert page on ExploreGeorgia.org to provide visitors with travel-related information. We will continue to update the site as this situation develops.
      ExploreGeorgia.org, Social Media, Advertising and PR

      In August, Explore Georgia is testing “Explore Your Georgia,” an integrated marketing campaign targeted to residents of Georgia. The campaign’s goal is to capture Georgians who are actively planning travel and inspire them to stay in-state for their trip. The campaign is a test to evaluate the effectiveness of travel advertising and the receptiveness of the audience during this time. While we’re not in recovery, and that may be a long way off, research shows us Georgians are traveling, taking trips up to 300 miles from their homes.

      The campaign is 100% digital, allowing us to quickly pivot to respond to evolving traveler sentiment. The campaign also is carried through new landing pages on ExploreGeorgia.org, email, and organic social. The test will last four weeks, and if deemed successful, will be continued into the fall.

      State Visitor Information Centers

      Georgia Visitor Information Centers (VICs) are reopening in phases. Beginning Monday, August 3, 2020, the following centers will be open 8:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. daily:

      • Augusta - I-20 West, GA-SC Line, Augusta, GA 30917. (706) 737-1446
      • Columbus - 1751 Williams Road, Columbus, GA 31904. (706) 649-7455
      • Lavonia - I-85 South, GA-SC Line, Lavonia, GA 30553. (706) 356-4019
      • Ringgold - 2726 I-75 South, Ringgold, GA 30736. (706) 937-4211
      • Tallapoosa - I-20 East, GA-AL Line, Tallapoosa, GA 30176. (770) 574-2621
      • West Point - 1-85 North, GA-AL Line, West Point, GA 31833. (706) 645-3353

      Restroom facilities at all of the nine VICs will remain open daily. The Georgia Department of Transportation has performed a deep clean of all VIC restroom facilities and will continue with scheduled cleanings, maintaining all health and hygiene standards. More information about the VICs can be found on the Explore Georgia website.

      Georgia State Parks & Historic Sites

      Georgia State Parks are enforcing that no large crowds are allowed in the parks, and visitors must stay at least 6 feet away from others in all areas. For details visit the Georgia State Parks & Historic Sites alerts page.

      Tourism Industry Event Cancellations/Rescheduling
      • The Georgia Tourism Conference has been rescheduled for 2021. Instead, the Georgia Tourism Summit on Sept. 2, 2020, will be a one-day version of the annual event, and free monthly webinars will be offered.
      • Georgia On My Mind Day events for 2020 have been canceled.
      • RVIC Conference: The 2020 event was canceled. Douglasville will host the 2021 RVIC Conference on April 21-23, 2021.

      • Coastal Georgia Tourism Conference (Savannah) – originally scheduled for April 17 has been rescheduled for April 13, 2021
      • Georgia Trail Summit (Augusta) – originally scheduled for May 3-4 has been rescheduled to an online format for November 8, 2020

      Resources for Business Interruption and Recovery

      The Georgia District Office of the U.S. Small Business Administration has shared the positive news that the State of Georgia declaration has been signed and issued.

      The following resources are directly related to the CARES (Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security) Act signed into law (H.R.748) on March 27, 2020:

      Additional COVID-19 relief information and resources are available via:

      • American Hotel & Lodging Association – Dedicated resources for the hospitality sector, including updates, talking points, webinars and the association's Hospitality for Hope Initiative, which includes free training and educational courses.
      • Destinations International – This association dedicated to helping destinations has a variety of tools and webinars for DMOs and CVBs to access via its COVID-19 Response and Recovery Hub.
      • Georgia Association of Convention & Visitors Bureaus – The state association for DMOs offers a comprehensive list of resources in its Coronavirus Update.
      • Georgia Chamber of Commerce - A detailed update on the CARES Act is available as a PDF to members; plus resources for businesses are available here. New Local Chamber Resiliency and Recovery Task Force PPT now available.
      • Georgia Department of Labor COVID-19 and Unemployment Claims Information
      • Georgia Hotel & Lodging Association – The state association for the lodging industry offers extensive resources related to the coronavirus crisis, including webinars, sector-specific research and other resources.
      • Georgia Restaurant Association – Industry sector news, blogs and resources for COVID-19 assistance directed to restaurants.
      • Georgia Small Business Development Centers – With more than 17 locations around the state, these centers are open to offer virtual assistance at no charge to sole proprietors, small businesses, and entrepreneurs on the various relief assistance now available.
      • Google My Business - Options and best practices for using Google My Business amid COVID-19 restrictions and shutdowns as well as setting up for success during recovery, supplied by Explore Georgia and developed by Miles Partnership.
      • International Festival & Event Association: Specific COVID-19 resources and reference materials available for the events and festival industry
      • U.S. Department of Homeland/Cyber and Infrastructure Security Agency: Risk Management Assessment for COVID-19
      • U.S. Small Business Administration – This is the main portal for businesses to apply for an Economic Injury Disaster Loan and other federal assistance.
      • U.S. Travel Association – Three clusters of information are now available – the new Toolkit: Coronavirus and Travel, COVID-19 Travel Industry Research, and CARES Act Travel Industry Relief Resources – to help navigate the crisis and impact on the tourism industry.

      Explore Georgia will continue to update this information as available. If you have additional questions or need specific assistance, please contact Explore Georgia's Director of Industry and Partner Relations Cheryl Hargrove at chargrove@georgia.org or 912-638-6078.

      Register for Extranet Training

      The Brand + Content Studio team is here to help you prepare for recovery and maximize your reach when travel resumes. To do so, we’ve arranged to host one-on-one Zoom training to update or create your listings on ExploreGeorgia.org. During this time, you’ll work with our team to review, improve, or establish your listings on our website using our partner extranet. Your listings on ExploreGeorgia.org are an important tool that drive traffic back to you and allow us to share your listing on our own platforms. The training sessions are available for one hour, Monday through Friday. To schedule, contact Lori Hennesy, partner content specialist, at lhennesy@georgia.org.

      VIC Reopening Signage

      Below is a link to download the signage we will be using in the state Visitor Information Centers. There are two versions of each file: one for in-house printing and one to send to a professional printer. If you have any questions or need assistance, please contact Manager of Regional Visitor Services Nija Torrence at NTorrence@georgia.org.

      Explore Georgia VIC Reopening Signage Files (updated 6/17/20)


      Research/Articles for Reference

      COVID-19 Study Participation

      The University of Georgia (UGA) Hospitality and Food Industry Management, Agricultural and Applied Economics, and Parks, Recreation and Tourism Management programs are collaborating to conduct a national survey that will explore the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on future travel behaviors, as well as current and future demand for hospitality services.

      Researchers are looking to collaborate with Georgia destination management organizations (DMOs), tourism operators, and hospitality partners in this research effort. The team hopes the results will help toward business recovery efforts when the pandemic subsides.

      Explore Georgia and other DMOs across the state are participating in this survey. The first wave has concluded. If you are interested in participating in the second wave, please contact the UGA Hospitality and Food Industry Management Program at hospitality@uga.edu or at 706-542-0769 by close of business on Monday, August 31, 2020. Participation in this study is free of charge.

      Resource Roundup

      We're sure you are trying to sort through the avalanche of information, research, and opinions circulating in the tourism and hospitality industry regarding the impact of COVID-19. It can be overwhelming and frustrating. So, we've culled through the most recent information, read the research and articles, and attended the webinars for you. Below is a roundup of what we consider to be the best, most relevant, and up-to-date information.

      Research

      Webinars

      International Contractor COVID-19 Updates

      Articles

      Forums

      • COVID-19 support group for DMOs - Destination Think: "For destination marketers, place marketers, and tourism professionals who are working to lead their destinations through the COVID-19 pandemic and toward recovery. Share solidarity, support, and intelligence with DMOs around the world."
      • Explore Georgia Partners Group: Facebook group hosted by Explore Georgia exclusively for tourism and hospitality industry professionals in the state.
      • Tourism Industry COVID-19 Resource Group: Facebook group focused on community sharing, created and managed by tourism professionals throughout the country.
      • The Travel Tribe: Facebook group created by destination marketer Jennifer Barbee focused on education and information for tourism professionals. Barbee has been conducting Facebook Live events to discuss the latest COVID-19 news and updates.

      Please contact Director of Tourism Research, Dr. Ashley Barfield, at abarfield@georgia.org with any research questions. All other questions should be directed to Director of Industry and Partner Relations, Cheryl Hargrove, at chargrove@georgia.org or Sarah Anne Steadman-Rhodes,  Manager of Partner Engagement, at ssteadman@georgia.org.

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