What to Know About COVID-19 and Georgia's Tourism Industry
Last updated May 14, 2020, at 10:15 a.m.
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 Senior Communications Specialist Emily Murray at email@example.com or at 404-962-4078 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 new COVID-19 hotline. 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. Hotline: (844) 442-2681
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. This page replaces nightly press releases from the Governor's Office and DPH. You can view the tool on the DPH website.
Impact on Georgia's Travel Industry
- 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. View the dashboard PDF.
Travel Impact During COVID-19
- On April 20, Gov. Kemp announced new guidance to allow more businesses the option to open on April 24 and 27 if they follow Minimum Basic Operations and specific health and wellness guidelines. On May 12, Gov. Kemp announced new guidance that bars, nightclubs, amusement parks, and live performance venues will remain closed through May 31, 2020. Industry-specific guidance for businesses is included in Governor Kemp's executive order available here.
- While the statewide shelter in place order has expired, Georgians are urged to stay home whenever possible. See full order here. The order extends Georgia's public health state of emergency through 11:59 p.m. on June 12, 2020. It also extends the shelter in place requirement to elderly and medically fragile residents until 11:59 p.m. on June 12, 2020.
- Georgia's beaches are open, but visitors should follow CDC social distancing guidelines. Additionally, the Georgia Department of Natural Resources issued an order prohibiting the use of chairs, tents and umbrellas seaward of the ordinary high-water mark, through May 6. Full details on the order can be seen here. Ferry service to Cumberland Island has been suspended until further notice.
- 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.
- According to Tourism Economics and based on preliminary 2019 data, Georgia is currently forecasted to register a 39% decline in total international visitation in 2020 compared to 2019. Overseas visitation, particularly from the European and Asian regions, will see the largest impacts, with Canada not far behind. Total international visitation to Georgia is not projected to return to 2019 levels until 2023 or 2024.
- 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.
- Gov. Kemp ordered the closing of Georgia Public Schools through the end of the 2019-2020 school year. Both orders can be seen here.
- 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
While all of our paid media remains paused, we are posting on social media, adding new content to our website, and pitching media that have secured placements like this one, with all messaging focused on encouraging everyone to "Explore Georgia From Home."
For now, we will continue to share content that encourages social distancing and good news stories from across Georgia. You’ll see more content in the coming weeks. Please follow along and share your destination’s stories by using #ExploreGeorgiafromHome.
If you have ways to Explore Georgia from Home, here's what we’re looking for:
- Virtual destinations: Are there new, engaging ways you're bringing your destination or attraction to visitors online? Virtual tours? Homeschool lessons? Instagram live Q&A sessions? Share yours with us.
- Feel good stories: Tell us how your tourism community is helping during these uncertain times.
If you have stories or information to share, please email them to our Social Media Manager Parker Whidby at firstname.lastname@example.org.
State Visitor Information Centers Closed
All state Visitor Information Centers (VIC) will close until further notice, effective March 13, at 5:30 p.m. Restroom facilities at nine of the 11 VICs will remain open 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
- Port Wentworth (Savannah) - I-95 South, Mile Marker 111, Port Wentworth, GA 31407. (912) 963-2546
- Ringgold - 2726 I-75 South, Ringgold, GA 30736. (706) 937-4211
- St. Marys 11 St. Marys Road, St. Marys, GA 31558. (912) 729-3253
- Tallapoosa - I-20 East, GA-AL Line, Tallapoosa, GA 30176. (770) 574-2621
- Valdosta - 5584 Mill Store Road, Lake Park, GA 31636. (229) 559-5828
- West Point - 1-85 North, GA-AL Line, West Point, GA 31833. (706) 645-3353
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 now 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 On My Mind Day events for 2020 have been canceled.
RVIC Conference: Following the recommendations by health organizations and our leaders, we have decided to cancel the RVIC Conference scheduled for April 22-24, 2020, in Douglasville. We feel that canceling the conference is the best decision at this time to ensure the safety and well-being of our partners and the public. We have begun the process of issuing refunds to registrants and have confirmed that Douglasville will host the 2021 RVIC Conference on April 21-23, 2021. We appreciate your continued support during this time. If you have any questions, please contact Nija Torrence, Regional Services Manager at email@example.com.
- U.S. Civil Rights Movement Sites Symposium (Atlanta) – scheduled for April 16-18; canceled.
- Coastal Georgia Tourism Conference (Savannah) – originally scheduled for April 17 has been rescheduled for November 6, 2020
- Georgia Trail Summit (Augusta) – originally scheduled for May 3-4 has been rescheduled to November 8-9, 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:
- CARES Act Eligibility Guide – Small Business Administration Economic Injury Disaster Loans and Emergency Stabilization Fund (per U.S. Travel Association)
- Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) Loans – U.S. Department of the Treasury
- The Small Business Owner's Guide to the CARES Act - produced by the U.S. Senate Committee on Small Business & Entrepreneurship
- Summary of CARES Act – U.S. Travel Association
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 firstname.lastname@example.org or 912-638-6078.
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 supports and is participating in this survey. If you are interested in participating, please contact the UGA Hospitality and Food Industry Management Program at email@example.com or at 706-542-0769. Participation in this study is free of charge.
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.
- ADARA: Travel Trends Index of domestic hotel and flight booking volumes and windows
- Arrivalist: Daily Travel Index of consumer road trips for all 50 U.S. States
- Destination Analysts
- COVID-19 Travel Sentiment Survey Key Findings and Updates Blog
- COVID-19 Research Hub - sign up for the key findings newsletter and weekly webinar, or purchase/subscribe to full reports
- COVID-19 and Travel Sentiment Survey (Wave 1 - Fielded March 10-11)
- COVID-19 and Travel Sentiment Survey (Wave 2 - Fielded March 18-19)
- COVID-19 and Travel Sentiment Survey (Wave 3 - Fielded March 25-26)
- COVID-19 and Travel Sentiment Survey (Wave 4 - Fielded April 1)
- COVID-19 and Travel Sentiment Survey (Wave 5 - Fielded April 8)
- COVID-19 and Travel Sentiment Survey (Wave 6 - Fielded April 15)
- COVID-19 and Travel Sentiment Survey (Wave 7 - Fielded April 22)
- Miles Partnership COVID-19 Data Tracking Research Hub
- MMGY Global:
- North American COVID Barometer (Wave 1 - March 9 Update)
- North American COVID Barometer (Wave 2 - March 23 Update)
- North American COVID Barometer (Wave 3 - April 6 Update)
- North American COVID Barometer (Wave 4 - April 20th Update)
- USTA Key Findings of the Travel Intentions Pulse Survey (March 27 Update)
- USTA Key Findings of the Travel Intentions Pulse Survey - Wave II (April 11 Update)
- USTA Key Findings of the Travel Intentions Pulse Survey -Wave III (April 22 Update)
- Oxford Economics:
- The Economic Impact of the Coronavirus Due to Travel Losses (March 16 update)
- The Economic Impact of the Coronavirus Due to Travel Losses (March 24 update)
- The Economic Impact of the Coronavirus Due to Travel Losses (April 15 Update)
- Air Passenger Forecasts: 2020 Falls, Expected Recovery and Long-Run Opportunities (April 2020)
- Simpleview COVID-19 Reports and Resources Hub
- Skift: (Skift Research Reports are available for individual purchase or with either an annual or monthly subscription.)
- STR COVID-19 Hotel Industry Impact Hub
- Tourism Economics:
- COVID-19: updated outlook and pandemic impacts
- Impacts of Coronavirus on Global Tourism
- Weekly Coronavirus Impact on Travel Expenditures in the U.S. (April 2 Update)
- Weekly Coronavirus Impact on Travel Expenditures in the U.S. (April 8 Update)
- Weekly Coronavirus Impact on Travel Expenditures in the U.S. (April 16 Update)
- Weekly Coronavirus Impact on Travel Expenditures in the U.S. (April 22 Update)
- Weekly Coronavirus Impact on Travel Expenditures in the U.S. (April 30 update)
- Travel and Tourism Research Association COVID-19 Resources Hub
- U.S. Travel Association COVID-19 Travel Industry Research Hub
- Bonotel Exclusive Travel (Receptive Tour Operator): Covid-19 & Future Travel Trends & Updates
- Brand USA:
- Quarterly Research Update: View webinar here, or download the presentation here.
- International COVID-19 International Market Update
- City/Nation/Place and Ketchum: Looking Forward as a Tourism Industry Amidst the Uncertainty of COVID-19
- Destination Analysts: Weekly Coronavirus Travel Sentiment Index Webinars and Recordings
- Destination Think!
- DMO Impact and Response Scenario Planning for COVID-19
- Strategic Planning for Your Destination Through the COVID-19 Crisis Virtual Forum Day 1 Webinar
- Adjusting Your Destination's Communications Through the COVID-19 Crisis Virtual Forum Day 2 Webinar
- Managing Your Destination and Supporting Your Tourism Industry Through the COVID-19 Crisis Virtual Forum Day 3 Webinar
- Destinations International: multiple webinars focused on COVID-19
- Expedia Group: COVID-19 Webinar Series and Recordings
- MMGY Global: The Shape of Summer Travel
- Outdoor recreation:
- America Walks: Walkability in the time of COVID-19: Changing Policies and Practices
- American Trails: Tech on the Trail: Engaging Kids on Hiking Trails Using Technology
- Brookings Institution: Who Gets Access to Public Space during a Pandemic?
- Conservation Leadership Network: Seeking Ideas and Sharing Solutions for Rural Gateway Communities during the COVID-19 Pandemic
- Destination Analysts, Colorado Tourism, Travel Oregon and Solimar Intl. from Miles Partnership: Clarity in a Time of Crisis: Earth Day Special
- Georgia Trails Alliance: Clever signage for trail systems urging social distancing noted during webinar.
- Rails to Trails Conservancy:
- Southeast Greenways & Trails Virtual Summit
- Roger Brooks International: Dealing With the Coronavirus: What to do immediately to help save your tourism industry, and downtown businesses
- Sparkloft (on behalf of Travel South): Social Sentiment & Global Outlook
- Impact of the COVID-19 Outbreak on the U.S. Hotel Industry
- There are weekly U.S. & Canada Hotel Performance webinars.
- Tourism Economics and Destinations International: Using the Event Impact Calculator (EIC) for Calculating Lost Business
- Tourism Economics and Travel South USA: International Outlook Webinar. Watch replay here.
- Travel and Tourism Research Association:
- There will be a weekly series of free online forums, which will be announced here.
- Converging research and marketing in the time of crisis Virtual Forum Webinar
- "COVID-19 Changing Travel Plans For A Majority of American Travelers" Virtual Forum Webinar
- "Insights into COVID-19 Travel Risk Perceptions" Virtual Forum Webinar
- U.S. Travel Association: CARES Act. Access the full recording or slides.
International Contractor COVID-19 Updates
- UK, Brazil, and Canada
- Austria, Germany, Switzerland
- Travel Consul Covid Impact Assessment (shared by German office)
- Adventure Travel News: Resilience in the Adventure Travel Industry: Preparing for the Unexpected
- Forbes: List of Small Business Relief Programs, including private sector programs
- Forbes: When Will Our National Parks Reopen? (April 16, 2020)
- How COVID-19 is Impacting Intentions to Visit Cultural Entities
- IMPLAN: The Potential Impact of Coronavirus on Foreign Travel to the US
- Inntopia: COVID-19 and the Economy: 7 Things to Expect for Travel Businesses (note: released prior to the US ski industry shutdown)
- Ketchum: Preparing for the Future of Tourism in a Post-COVID-19 World
- Ketchum: The State of Travel Reporting in the World of COVID-19
- SATW Sustainable Tourism Webinar (4.3.2020): Destination Stewardship Center article "Corona-crisis: A Destination Management Opportunity" provided as resource.
- Skift: After the Virus: 10 Consumer Trends for a Post-Coronavirus World
- Skift Coronavirus Liveblog
- Skift Newspage
- 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 firstname.lastname@example.org with any research questions. All other questions should be directed to Director of Industry and Partner Relations, Cheryl Hargrove, at email@example.com or Sarah Anne Steadman-Rhodes, Manager of Partner Engagement, at firstname.lastname@example.org.