And ... when we'll be able to travel?

27.07.2021 5 Min Read
And ... when  we'll be able to travel?

You have probably asked yourself this question many times for yourself and those gathered with friends, you have often talked to yourself - when will we be able to travel? We check the list of co-safe countries on the Internet and read, "Are we on the list of countries with red or orange status now?" On the street we are watching for a small groups of tourists and we surprised of their courage.


Since the COVID-19 pandemic was declared in March 2020, everyday life around the world has changed radically. Among the affected sectors, tourism has been named as one of the most "dangerous" activities, and if we borrow the OECD study, in 2020, even about 80% decline in international tourism worldwide was expected. But tourism is one of the important sources of economic growth in Georgia. If we look at the numbers, we will see that the revenues from this sector increased from 5% to 18% of GDP during 2010-2019, which significantly increased the budget. One is the budget, and the other is the people, who have found a source of income in this sector.


The tourism during Covid 19 like swinging on the waves - a reduction in regulations is often followed by an increase in the number of flights, overcrowded hotels, which seems to revive it. However, each new wave of pandemics detected from time to time makes today's fragile environment even more unreliable and puts the country back in a state of uncertainty. What solution remains when the environment is so volatile and the tourism sector is completely dependent on it?


The general answer to this question might be to adapt, to adapt tourism to the existing reality. However, today, traveling as a tourist does not sound very attractive. The reason for this is the feeling of insecurity, the constantly changing rate of the covid-infected, the risks of closing the borders again in a foreign country, and so on. It is at this time that domestic tourism becomes relatively promising, which avoids certain risks and allows for short-term travel.


Based on the data of the National Statistics Office of Georgia in recent years (2016-2020), it can be said that about half of the residents aged 15 and older travel within the country primarily to visit friends and relatives. It lags far behind the number of travelers for other reasons (shopping, treatment, etc.). And even 10% of our citizens do not travel locally for leisure and entertainment. It is true that this number almost doubles during the summer, but the fact is that travel in own country for leisure and fun remains a very unpopular topic. Anyway, it was like that before the pandemic and it is like that now, even in the first quarter of 2021. As expected, Tbilisi, Imereti and Adjara A / R are among the most actively visited places. By the way, in the conditions of the pandemic, compared to previous years, the number of people wishing to spend their vacation in cottages has almost doubled (up to 16%).





"I remember being proud and enjoying my lifestyle, constant travels and adventures: Berlin, Paris, Dhaka, New Delhi, Kerala ... different countries, cultures and news," said Salome, who traveled abroad quite often before the pandemic. - "Once, a friend came from Bangladesh and called me to meet him for a while. The whole evening, he was talking about Racha, Svaneti and even some lakes in astonishment. He was asking me with round eyes - what? You don't know it?. A few months after the start of the pandemic, I realized that now was the time for me to get to know my country. I have a plan - I have to visit all the national parks of Georgia this year! Reserves, see lakes. I have already been to Tskaltubo, to Kazbegi. In Samtskhe-Javakheti I also saw birds of strange beauty sitting on the lakes and I know, that now I am planning go at Chiatura. "


ACT wondered how ready Tbilisi vacationers like Salome are to travel inside the country or abroad this year? Where are they going to rest and how much did the pandemic affect their decision?


The survey showed that 28% of the population aged 18+ have no plans to leave the capital at all in the summer. 9% of them refused to leave Tbilisi this year because of the pandemic, citing the risks of safe vacations and declining incomes as the main reasons. 12% of respondents have not yet decided whether to rest, which is mainly attributed to the job or lack of finances.

Most of the respondents, at least 60%, consider traveling in the summer, although very few of them plan to spend the summer abroad (6%). The research showed that those who want to leave the city in summer are mostly under 54-year-olds from Tbilisi. Among them, young people under the age of 34 are mainly going to spend the holidays at the sea or in the mountains, while the population aged 35-54 is equally desirable to spend the holidays at the sea and at the family / relative's cottage.


It should come as no surprise that due to the pandemic, more than half of the population is quite confused about summer plans, which is related to the selected vacation spot, duration and, most of all, budget. One-fifth (20%) of the respondents had to change their vacation location, mostly people who had visited both sea and mountain resorts before the pandemic and / or were actively traveling abroad. It was also revealed that due to the complicated economic situation due to the pandemic and the lack of desire to stay in a foreign environment for a long time, a large proportion of travelers prefer short-term travel to long-term vacation.


Although the creation of the vaccine has raised positive expectations in the society, the problem in the tourism sector is still relevant for Georgia and the world. Moreover, the OECD predicts that in 2021 we will have to live in "survival mode" again and return to the usual mode of tourism, will remain a matter of the future. Against this background, the importance of such factors as the availability of vaccines, the increase in the number of vaccinated people, the removal of restrictions in the face of mitigated pandemic waves, etc. is becoming increasingly important. All this is directly related to the activation of tourism processes, which is vital for a country like Georgia. For a country for which tourism is one of the most important ways to deal with unemployment.



* A survey was conducted in June 2021, by random sampling, with 411 adult residents of Tbilisi. Method used - telephone interview. The statistical error of the data does not exceed 4.9%.


Author: Keti Mamadashvili

Analyst, ACT Research

Featured Insights
09.06.2021

As the Coronavirus pandemic started, economic downfall made society face threat of unemployment and loss of incomes. Drastic decrease of incomes is directly connected to purchasing capacities and considering tendency of growing prices on food products, the picture is not that pleasant. It’s a fact, that this situation hits low income families the most who spend the majority of their incomes on food.


When compared to the previous year, prices on food globally increased by 14% in 2021 (World Bank, Food Price Index 2021), Georgia did not fall behind this negative tendency. In April of the current year, ACT got interested in the impact of increased prices and inquired respondents on the dynamics of costs spent on food and frequency of using different products over the past 6 months.


Growth rates 


In the spring time, social media was overflowed by record growth of oil price and this became a popular topic for discussions or jokes. Even though the price of oil reached its historic maximum price since 2008, unfortunately, oil was not the only main character in this story and the pandemic appeared to be pushing prices up and up on food products. Based on National Statistics Office of Georgia, prices in food category went up by 0.3% in April compared to the previous month which was reflected in 0.1% growth in 7.2% inflation rate. In good categories, prices of fruit and oil, fish and sweets showed the biggest growth rate:  


The majority of 401 respondents we inquired, confirmed drastic increase of prices and declared that they have to spend more and more on food recently. If we look at data in age perspective, the picture is similar for all age groups – the majority of respondents (averagely 75%) in 18-34, 35-54 and 55+ age groups report on noticeable growth of prices in food category over the past 6 months.


According to the study results, the most frequently used products (everyday, several times a week) include bread and bakery, vegetables, fruit, dairy products and sweets for the majority of respondents. Relatively less frequently consumed products are frozen and canned meals, fish and oil, butter, sugar and cheese. If we compare this list to the dynamics of prices provided by GeoStat, we’ll see that most frequently used food products are now more expensive. The products listed below take the majority of space in consumer basket according to frequency of use.


Impact of the shock


To sum up briefly, the pandemic and its negative effects on the economy was not unexpected – breach in food supply chain and delaying processes logically follow similar crisis. The Coronavirus pandemic caused delays in functioning of global food value chains, which affected every phase of food supply. This all originated from the restrictions and regulations set in forth by governments of different countries.


For now, food prices have to cope with the shock caused by the pandemic. Prices increase from month to month, as well as annually. Even though developing, food importer countries are number one target for price growth caused by the pandemic, however, in import-depended Georgia where other external economic factors are actively making impact, including depreciation of the national currency, growth of prices on food products is even more evident and noticeable.


Author: Lika goderdzishvili
Portfolio lead, development consulting


03.06.2021

COVID-19 outbreak caused one of the most severe crisis in the history of mankind and entire world still tries to cope with it. As of now, number of infected individuals exceeds 158 million, while number of deaths caused by the virus is more than 3,2 million. The pandemic changed entire world and alongside, severely affected all the existing industries. Its results were reflected in global economic recession, including bankruptcy of small and medium businesses, increase of unemployment rate, crisis in tourism sector, record fall on stock exchange, etc.


Economic recession during the pandemic 


Global economy was severely hit which was caused by regulations set in forth for prevention of the virus outbreak. As soon as the pandemic started, it drastically changed lifestyle, occupation and in general, our everyday life. Soon enough, the majority of countries announced strict lockdown as the most effective tool against the virus and social distancing as the best way to protect each other. These regulations made huge impact on the global economy and left millions of people jobless. According to the 2020 report issued by World Health Organization, 114 million individuals were left without job all over the world this year. In total, 8.8 percent of global working hours were lost throughout the year which is equivalent to 255 million full-time work. The given rate is approximately 4 times higher compared to working hours lost as a result of global financial crisis in 2009. Loss of the resource on labor market was naturally caused by bankruptcy of companies or compulsory slim down of personnel. In 2020, Gross Domestic Product globally decreased by 3.7 trillion USD, which equals 4.4. percent decrease. Process of economic improvement is particularly hindered by regulations related to social distancing which were set in forth due to airborne transmission of the virus.

 

Immunization as the way of survival 


Work on Covid-19 vaccines started in different labs as early as in 2020 and as for today, vaccination process is actively implemented in the majority of countries. In order to restore social gatherings and return to office space, it is clearly most important to minimize health-related risks. At this point, this can be achieved only with help of herd immunity, which means that more than half of country/world population needs to be resistant to the virus. Only mass vaccination will make it possible to achieve this goal. However, it is a fact that generation of herd immunity requires significant period of time and medical resources. In addition to this, there is lack of citizens’ readiness to get vaccinated which sometimes prolongs the said process even more. All these, added up together results in delayed immunization process and economic recession goes on indefinitely.




Potential effect of mass immunization 


More than 2,02 billion doses of vaccine are used in the world and more than 443 million people are fully vaccinated. More than 11 percent of world population is vaccinated at least once and 5,7 percent of population is fully vaccinated. Even though it takes certain amount of time after mass vaccination to generate herd immunity, but looking at the examples of some of the countries, we can already speak about first results and positive tendencies coming from vaccination.




Israel holds the leading position in population immunization process where more than 63 percent of citizens have at least one dose of vaccine and more than 56 percent of citizens are fully vaccinated. This enabled the country to generate herd immunity and restore activities in public spaces or offices which will definitely make its impact on the economy. Vaccination level is so high in Israel, that it is no longer required to wear a mask outdoors and regulations are significantly lighter. In addition, schools are now open and fully vaccinated people can freely visit restaurants, attend cultural and sports events, concerts in large halls and celebrate religious holidays in mass gathering spaces. As a result of relaxed regulations resulted from vaccination, service field has already started working in the country and companies operating in this sector already make their first steps to cope with financial crisis.



51 percent of population in United States of America got at least one dose of vaccine  and more than 41.5% is fully vaccinated. Part of strict regulations are abolished, including: fully vaccinated people are allowed not to wear a mask indoors and outdoors unless it is required by the law of the specific state. In addition, it is no longer compulsory to do COVID test or stay in self-isolation for domestic or international travels. This helps to revive the tourism and allow companies and their employees operating in this sector to go back to economic activity.



With help of high level of vaccination, these countries manage to open economy, restore everyday activities and enable business sector to work fully – this supports generation of new jobs and is the first step to restoring country’s economy.


From tough challenges to new opportunities 


We all know the world before the pandemic, but we can only assume what it will be like after the pandemic is over. Based on past experiences of overcoming crisis situations, such was big depression in 30ies, global economic crisis after World War II, economic recession after the collapse of Soviet Union or world financial crisis in 2009-2010, together with world leading analysists/experts we can assume that the end of this pandemic will be followed even more changes:


Altered consumer behavior – the pandemic has already drastically altered consumer behavior and this change will become even more distinct in long-term perspective. When coping with instability, people had priorities, requirements and values shifted. Consumers’ expectations towards companies will change, they will want new way of receiving service and purchasing products. Respectively, companies will have to remodel their working methods and presumably, role of e-commerce, remote services and automatization of processes will grow even bigger in future.


Labor market – remote format of work provides new challenges and opportunities for employers and employees. Nowadays, more and more employees have a desire to work remotely or choose hybrid format of work implying shift of remote and office formats. It is presumable, that employers will consider switching their employees to remote format in the post-pandemic era which will enable them to cut costs.


Business sector – many industries face inevitable changes and in order to cope with the pandemic, companies had to beat off rather painful hits. Such change of the environment pushed businesses to revise their strategy. Traditional methods of doing business turned out to be ineffective in many industries, while business companies showed insufficient flexibility and adaptation ability. Companies like that will have to develop renewed business models, remodel their strategies and adjust to new requirements of consumers which need to be appropriate to the post-pandemic era as well.


Digital era – digitalization process of business sector started even before the pandemic, but COVID-19 outbreak drastically accelerated this process. Digital transformation is inevitable in today’s reality and its need will be even more obvious after the pandemic is over. It was digital technologies that made it possible to remotely work, study and in general, communicate in a new way during the pandemic. Intense investment in the sector of digital technologies will continue after the pandemic too and new services or completely new industries will inevitable emerge.


The Coronavirus Pandemic made the mankind face a variety of challenges and opportunities at the same time. Fighting against the virus is a complex process where you can only gain advantage through joined forces. In the process of coping with the pandemic, economic rates may get equal or even exceed pre-COVID results, but considering its tremendous size, the pandemic thoroughly changed external factors and people’s mindset as well. Even though no one knows for sure that the new world will look like, but it is vitally important for all of us to realize that mass vaccination is not a simple solution to the problem and key to improve global/local economic condition. Vaccination just gives us a chance to live with fewer regulations, return to social space and restore economy with our bare hands. To say it in other words – mass vaccination will help us pass the road together from immunization of population to regeneration of economy.


Author: Saba Khergiani 

Junior analyst, management consulting


26.05.2021

Public opinion polls conducted in recent years clearly show the positive attitude of the Georgian population towards European and North Atlantic integration. At the same time, for the last two decades, the Georgian authorities have always confirmed the country's aspirations towards European institutions. Moreover, the current government has loudly stated that the country is preparing to apply for EU membership by 2024. There is an expectation that this promise was made in advance coordination with European partners, which increases the expectation of a positive outcome.


One of the most effective tools for rapprochement with the EU is the Eastern European Partnership political initiative, which aims to deepen and strengthen relations between the EU member states and their six eastern neighbors: Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, the Republic of Moldova and Ukraine. The Eastern Partnership platform, on the one hand, enables countries to join efforts to move closer to European institutions, on the other hand, is an effective tool for the EU to assess countries' progress and plan appropriate policies.


At the same time, the European institutions are actively monitoring the population of the Partnership member states and their attitudes towards both European integration and these institutions themselves. Since 2016, ACT has been actively cooperating with international organizations and monitoring public opinion in the Eastern Partnership countries. One such study was conducted in the spring of 2021, the results of which allow us to draw interesting conclusions about the attitudes and preferences of the population, as well as the different picture in these six countries.


63% of Georgia's adult population is positive about the EU


According to a survey conducted by ACT in all six Eastern Partnership countries in March 2021, the majority of Georgia's adult population (aged 15 and older) is positive towards the EU and, as it turns out, Positive attitude of Georgian population is the highesе among the six Eastern Partnership countries. Interestingly, the number of neutrals is not small either (35%), while only 1% evaluate this institution negatively.


What is your attitude towards the European Union? (%)


Source: Eastern Partnership Public Opinion Survey, 

Sampling Size - 6000 Respondents, March 2021, ACT

 

The majority of Georgia's adult population (76%) trust the EU, regardless of whether they like the institution Interestingly, there are even more people who may not like this European institution, although the fact is, they still trust it. In this regard, the level of trust in the European Union is the highest among the population of Georgia.


The results of the public opinion poll in the Eastern Partnership countries have already been heard in Brussels, at the Eastern Partnership and EU headquarters. It is also planned that by 2024, ACT and its international partners will provide Brussels with the results of a survey of the population of all six countries each spring. Ultimately, time will tell the results of the Eastern Partnership countries in fulfilling their commitments to the European institutions.









Confidence in the EU (%)

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