According to the United Nations World Tourism Organization, domestic tourism is set to recover faster to pre-pandemic levels than international tourism in selected markets. Considering that the Covid-19 pandemic has modified tourists’ attitudes towards traveling, it is pertinent to analyze recovery trends and potential shifts in domestic travelers’ behavior as the tourism industry in Georgia begins its recovery.
In the first quarter of 2021, the total number of domestic visits within Georgia amounted to 3.7 million, which was 18.8% higher compared to the corresponding quarter of 2020 and 12.1% higher than in 2019. At the same time, in the second quarter of 2021, the number of domestic visits increased markedly and reached 4.2 million, which was 27% higher than the same period in 2019 and more than double the level of 2020.
There have also been some changes in the breakdown of travel purposes of domestic visits throughout the reporting period. Still, “visiting relatives/friends” has remained the category with the highest share of total visits. Nevertheless, the share of this category showed a significant year-on-year decline throughout 2020, which was attributed to by the imposed lockdown measures and traveler hesitancy. In the second quarter of 2021, its share was 47.0%, which is 3.4 percentage points (pp) lower than for the first half of 2019.
Moreover, the share of “recreation” in this breakdown demonstrated a significant decrease after the third quarter of 2020. In Q4 of 2020, the share of “recreation” decreased by 12.0pp (from 15.2% to 3.2%) compared to Q3 of the same year, partly explained by seasonality and partly by the restrictions imposed in Q4. In 2021, there has been a slight increase in the share of recreation in total domestic visits, reaching 7.0% in Q2 of 2021, which is 1.5pp higher compared to the corresponding period of 2020 and 1.8pp lower compared to Q2 of 2019.
The expenses of domestic visitors throughout the reporting period showed some variability. However, compared to the 2019 and Q1-Q3 2020 levels, the expenses throughout the period of Q4 2020-Q2 2021 were significantly higher, which can be partly explained by inflationary trends, considering that most such expenses are on shopping, food, drink, and transport, prices for which have all increased in the national currency since the onset of the pandemic. The total expenditure of domestic visitors in Q2 2021 amounted to GEL 610 million, which is an impressive 70.7% higher than in the corresponding period of 2019, and 128.1% higher than in Q2 2020.
Finally, considering the positive trends in the number of domestic visits and the increasing total expenses of domestic visitors, it can be concluded that for Georgia, domestic tourism has served as a buffer against plummeting foreign tourism, which is only now beginning to recover.
Hotel Price Index
In October 2021, in Georgia, the hotel price index decreased by 1.5% compared to September 2021. The 3-star, 4-star and 5-star hotel price index decreased by 4.2%, while for guesthouses, the price index increased by 2.8%.
In October 2021, compared to October 2019, hotel prices in Georgia increased by 1.4%. The prices of 3*, 4*, 5* hotels decreased by 0.8% and the prices of guesthouses increased by 5.3%.
Average Hotel Prices
In Georgia, the average cost of a room in a 3-star hotel was 136 GEL per night in October 2021, while the average cost of a room in a 4-star hotel in Georgia was 246 GEL per night and the average cost of a room in a guesthouse was 99 GEL per night.
The average cost of a room in a 5-star hotel in Georgia in October 2021 was 436 GEL per night. In Kakheti, the average price was 615 GEL, followed by Tbilisi – 588 GEL, Adjara – 416 GEL and Guria – 403 GEL.