This article is excerpted from the Explore Georgia website. Follow link to original article and for most up-to-date information.

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 emurray@georgia.org 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.
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.
  • 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 pwhidby@georgia.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 ntorrence@georgia.org.

  • 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:

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.


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 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

International Contractor COVID-19 Updates

  • UK, Brazil, and Canada
  • Austria, Germany, Switzerland
  • Travel Consul Covid Impact Assessment (shared by German office)

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.