Small Hotel Sector of Ajara and The Main Challenges of COVID-19 Pandemic


  • Nino Pavliashvili
  • Giorgi Gogsadze
  • Giorgi Kvinikadze
  • Vladimer Chkhaidze


Small hotels, Tourism, COVID-19 pandemic, Ajara, Georgia


COVID-19 pandemic negatively affected all spheres of socio-economic and cultural life of the world. Travel and other restrictions brought many touristic businesses to significant downsizing or even closure. Before pandemic, tourism and hospitality industries were fastest developing sectors of Georgia’s economy. Ajara Autonomous Republic, due to its beautiful landscape, subtropical climatic conditions, safety, hospitality, and distinguished cuisine, always had been an attractive tourist destination. In Georgia’s case, major part of tourism revenues (around 70%) come from international visitors. Closure of borders and travel bans caused loss of income and jobs in Ajara hospitality sector. Small hotels and guest houses account for the major part of the region’s touristic enterprises, especially in terms of employment. The purpose of this paper is to identify the main challenges of small hotel business in Ajara during COVID-19 pandemic (2020-2021). The research findings are mostly based on the results of a qualitative sociological research, employing in-depth interviews with owners and managers of small hotels, using a qualitative sociological method with semi-structured interview guide. The research was conducted in July–October, 2021. For the selection of the respondents, we used two-stage sample design. From the beginning, the respondents were chosen based on purposive sampling, considering the location and size of hotel. The next stage is based on snowball sampling. Under this method, the respondents nominate other interviewees who fit into the selected category. Overall, the research covered 32 in-depth interviews in three cities/places of Ajara: Batumi, Kobuleti and Gonio. The research also employs the following methods: processing and analyzing official data provided by the Georgian National Tourism Administration and Tourism Department of Ajara; critical review of academic works, reports of international organizations and NGOs on the subject; GIS technologies for preparing and integrating map through ESRI ArcGIS; and visual presentation of the results – Adobe Illustrator.  Analysis of the governmental policy on mitigating COVID-19 affect in 2020-2021, on the one hand, and tourism development trends, on the other, allows us to conclude that these two years radically differed.  In 2020, restriction of international travel confined Georgia’s tourism sector to internal tourism only.  Lifting restrictions in 2021, most notably - restoration of international travel, stimulated recovery of tourism sector, including hotel business.  This was also confirmed by our survey: all of the respondents noted that small hotels were under significant risk but lifting restrictions saved their business.  The trade-off between the public health and economy in Georgia ultimately was decided in the favor of the later.


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