Posted: 6 months ago

Closed Hotels, Cancelled Bookings – Coronavirus Hits Restaurants and Accommodation Facilities

A new challenge has attacked ski resorts. After a disappointing winter season, the coronavirus-related restrictions also began to apply to highland regions and ski resorts cannot host visitors any more.

The Minister of Economy and Sustainable Development announced the decision to prematurely bring the season to a close at a government meeting.  

We have taken the right decision on ending the season at ski resorts, and this is a justifiable step to prevent spreading the virus, Economy Minister Natia Turnava noted. 

Representatives of family guest houses have also commented on the early closure of the ski resort season. As noted by Giorgi Gorjoladze, owner of the Bakuriani-based hotel Premier House, coronavirus-related restrictions coincided with the winter season; however, the domestic market was affected after ski resorts suspended operations several weeks earlier.

“The current developments coincided with the closure of the ski resorts season. Traditionally, this period sees a lower number of visitors, but the coronavirus has aggravated the situation, and the number of visitors has dramatically declined. We would bear many more losses if these restrictions had appeared in January, because the tourism industry reached its peak over the previous months. Today, our hotel has already been closed for the season, and now we are operating in this new fashion. We have temporarily suspended operation”, Giorgi Gorjoladze noted. 

“Prematurely closed ski resorts will negatively affect domestic business”, a representative of the Gudauri-based hotel Edelweiss, noted.  

“We had an unfortunate season, because very few tourists visited the resort this year. The majority of bookings were cancelled, and we faced certain financial problems. As for the challenges posed by the coronavirus, the situation is very serious, because vacationers left the resort in just a few days. We will still continue operations, as several tourists remain here. Tomorrow, they will also leave the hotel, and we will suspend operations temporarily”, the Edelweiss representative noted. 

At a government’s interdepartmental board meeting, Prime Minister Giorgi Gakharia proposed closing restaurants, café and bars, as well. Closed hotels and restaurants, cancelled bookings, a 90% contraction in tourist inflows – in this way the coronavirus has already affected restaurants and accommodations. 

To rescue facilities and enterprises “on hiatus”, the Prime Minister introduced a detailed action plan to introduce economic stimulation measures; however, Kote Gabrichidze, head of the Association of Restaurants, assures us that this action plan is infeasible. 

“They are discussing action plans, but I think they do not know how to act in this situation. In foreign countries, the government gives compensation to furloughed employees, but nobody knows what to expect in our country. As for the temporarily closed restaurants, cafés and bars, the worst thing is that many citizens will lose their jobs. They talk about 2 weeks, but, in reality, nobody knows how long this situation will last”, Kote Gabrichidze noted. 

The action plan prepared by the Georgian government specifies economic stimulation measures to cushion the negative effects of the spread of the coronavirus. 

As for the decision regarding the early closure of ski resorts, this decision was announced by the Economy Minister Natia Turnava at a government meeting after two Czech tourists were found to be infected in the Czech Republic, a day later they left Georgia, having spent a weeklong vacation in Gudauri.