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

Last updated April 1, 2020, at 6 p.m.

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 emurray@georgia.org or at 404-962-4078 with any questions.

Jump to:
American Hotel and Lodging Association Resources
COVID-19 Study Participation
Explore Georgia Staff
ExploreGeorgia.org, Social Media, Advertising and PR
Georgia Restaurant Association Resources
Georgia State Parks & Historic Sites
Georgia's Confirmed Cases
GOMM Events
Impact on Georgia's Travel Industry
Industry Event Cancellations/Rescheduling
Information and Resources
Key Messaging
Major Event Cancellations
Resource Roundup
RVIC Conference
State Visitor Information Centers Closed

Key Messaging: COVID-19 in Georgia

  • 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.
  • 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 now 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.

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
  • Economic Injury Disaster Loans: The Georgia District Office of the U.S. Small Business Administration just shared the positive news that the State of Georgia declaration has been signed and issued. Georgia small businesses impacted by COVID-19 are now eligible to apply for Economic Injury Disaster Loans (EIDL). Additional information and applications are available here.

Georgia's Confirmed Cases

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 will replace nightly press releases from the Governor's Office and DPH and update every evening at midnight to ensure accurate and regular information is provided to the public. You can view the new tool on the DPH website.

Explore Georgia Staff

Following Governor Kemp’s order issued on March 12, the Georgia Department of Economic Development has implemented telework options for employees. All non-essential travel has been suspended.

State Visitor Information Centers Closed

All state Visitor Information Centers (VIC) will close until further notice, effective today, 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.

ExploreGeorgia.org, Social Media, Advertising and PR

We have paused all Explore Georgia paid advertising, media outreach and promotional activities. This includes inbound and outbound FAMs, media trips, and mission trips. Brand USA and Travel South USA have implemented similar actions.

While we will continue to keep all Explore Georgia promotional activities paused, we also know that our visitors are spending more time online and are eager for quality content. With that knowledge, we’ve decided to begin engaging our visitors on social, and we need your help. We need to collect relevant and interesting content that meets the current moment. 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 Social Media Manager Parker Whidby at pwhidby@georgia.org.

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 hospitality@uga.edu or at 706-542-0769. 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

  • U.S. Travel Association: CARES Act. Access the full recording or slides.
  • City/Nation/Place and Ketchum: “Looking Forward as a Tourism Industry Amidst the Uncertainty of COVID-19.” Watch the replay here.
  • STR: “Impact of the COVID-19 Outbreak on the U.S. Hotel Industry.” Watch the replay here.
  • Destinations International: multiple webinars focused on COVID-19. Watch the replays here.
  • Roger Brooks International: “Dealing With the Coronavirus: What to do immediately to help save your tourism industry, and downtown businesses.” Watch the replay here.
  • Brand USA’s Quarterly Research Webinar - watch the replay here or download the presentation here
  • Brand USA’s Quarterly Research Update: Most up-to-date insights on the international travel environment, including proprietary data on consumer sentiment across 11 international source markets. You can view the webinar here
  • Tourism Economics and Destinations International “Using the Event Impact Calculator (EIC) for Calculating Lost Business”. Watch replay here.
  • Tourism Economics and Travel South USA “International Outlook Webinar”. Watch replay here.
  • RTC webinar: “Trail Use and Management During the COVID-19 Pandemic”. Watch replay here.
  • Clever signage for trail systems urging social distancing noted during webinar featured on GTA facebook page.
  • Conservation Leadership Network webinar: “Seeking Ideas and Sharing Solutions for Rural Gateway Communities during the COVID-19 Pandemic”. Watch replay here.
  • RTC Webinar: “Closing Streets to Create Space for Walking and Biking During COVID-19 Confirmation”. Watch replay here.
  • Virtual “Southeast Greenways & Trails Summit”. Watch replay here.

International Contractor COVID-19 Updates

Articles

Forums

  • 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.

Major Event Cancellations

  • Atlanta St. Patrick's Day Parade: canceled
  • Atlanta Hawks: The NBA has suspended its season.
  • Atlanta United: Major League Soccer has suspended its season for 30 days.
  • College Park Skyhawks: The G-League has suspended its season.
  • International Cherry Blossom Festival, Macon, Ga.: canceled
  • Masters Tournament, Augusta, Ga.: postponed
  • NCAA Basketball: All Division I men’s and women’s tournaments and championship games have been canceled.
  • Savannah, Ga., St. Patrick's Day: parade and festivities: canceled
  • SEC Events: Campus sporting events and SEC Championship events will be conducted without fans in attendance. For the latest information and updates, please visit the SEC website.

GOMM Events

The Georgia On My Mind Day events planned for Sylvania (March 20) and Valdosta (April 3) Visitor Information Centers have been postponed. New dates will be determined at a later date. The next event is scheduled for May 1 in St. Marys. That event, and the remaining events will continue as planned, but we will reevaluate this decision as the situation continues to develop.

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 ntorrence@georgia.org.

Industry Event Cancellations/Rescheduling

  • 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

If you have additional industry events that have been canceled or rescheduled, please send them to Cheryl Hargrove at chargrove@georgia.org so we may keep an accurate calendar.

Impact on Georgia’s Travel Industry

  • Restrictions on travel from Europe to the United States have been put in place by the federal government for the next 30 days.The official statement and details can be found on The White House 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.
  • Impact from European countries for the state of Georgia:
    • In 2018, there were 7,037 arrivals in Georgia from Austria: .50% of all international arrivals to Georgia.
    • In 2018, there were 7,135 arrivals in Georgia from Belgium: .51% of all international arrivals to Georgia.
    • In 2018, there were 2,628 arrivals in Georgia from Czech Republic: .19% of all international arrivals to Georgia.
    • In 2018, there were 8,915 arrivals in Georgia from Denmark: .64% of all international arrivals to Georgia.
    • In 2018, there were 5,481 arrivals in Georgia from Finland: .39% of all international arrivals to Georgia.
    • In 2018, there were 35,633 arrivals in Georgia from France: 2.6% of all international arrivals to Georgia.
    • In 2018, there were 102,352 arrivals in Georgia from Germany: 7.3% of all international arrivals to Georgia.
    • In 2018, there were 2,561 arrivals in Georgia from Greece: .18% of all international arrivals to Georgia.
    • In 2018, there were 2,360 arrivals in Georgia from Hungary: .17% of all international arrivals to Georgia.
    • In 2018, there were 13,478 arrivals in Georgia from Ireland: .97% of all international arrivals to Georgia.
    • In 2018, there were 20,844 arrivals in Georgia from Italy: 1.5% of all international arrivals to Georgia.
    • In 2018, there were 34,746 arrivals in Georgia from Netherlands: 2.5% of all international arrivals to Georgia.
    • In 2018, there were 7,440 arrivals in Georgia from Norway: .5% of all international arrivals to Georgia.
    • In 2018, there were 4,789 arrivals in Georgia from Poland: .3% of all international arrivals to Georgia.
    • In 2018, there were 4,795 arrivals in Georgia from Portugal: .3% of all international arrivals to Georgia.
    • In 2018, there were 4,795 arrivals in Georgia from Portugal: .3% of all international arrivals to Georgia.
    • In 2018, there were 22,071 arrivals in Georgia from Spain: 1.6% of all international arrivals to Georgia.
    • In 2018, there were 15,365 arrivals in Georgia from Sweden: 1.1% of all international arrivals to Georgia.
    • In 2018, there were 15,789 arrivals in Georgia from Switzerland: 1.1% of all international arrivals to Georgia.
  • Travel impact from level 3 countries for the state of Georgia:
    • In 2018, there were 51,667 arrivals in Georgia from China: 3.7% of all international arrivals to Georgia.
    • In 2018, there were 523 arrivals in Georgia from Iran: 0.037% of all international arrivals to Georgia.
    • In 2018, there were 30,681 arrivals in Georgia from South Korea: 2.2% of all international arrivals to Georgia.
    • In 2018, there were nearly 20,845 arrivals in Georgia from Italy: 1.5% of all international arrivals to Georgia.

*Source: International States Travel Database, Tourism Economics

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. The Georgia Department of Natural Resources is currently using a small, remote portion of Hard Labor State Park as a COVID-19 patient quarantine site. For details visit the Georgia State Parks & Historic Sites alerts page.

American Hotel and Lodging Association Resources

The AHLA has published industry talking points, best practices, and resources to help partners manage this situation on their COVID-19 web page. If you have an employee who tests positive for COVID-19, contact the Georgia Department of Public Health at 1-866-PUB-HLTH (1-866-782-4584).

Georgia Restaurant Association Resources

The GRA's COVID-19 web page is the best place to find the most up-to-date information for Georgia's restaurants. The page contains links to several useful resources, including a chart with local executive orders (curfews, off-premise sales allowances, etc.), a list of upcoming and past webinars, a compilation of state and national industry news, and helpful information for owners/operators and restaurant workers.

  • Skift: U.S. Travel Tracker January and February 2020: Onset of COVID-19 Impact report
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