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Post-Pandemic Georgia for International Visitors

Post-Pandemic Georgia for International Visitors

The Global Situation

Coronavirus has served as a reminder of our mortality, the changing hierarchy of life’s priorities and the indiscriminate equality with which Mother Nature treats us all. Worldwide devastation of immense proportions caught us all off-guard. The numbers are well-known. As of this writing (June 1), according to the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control, the total number of cases worldwide is 6.15 million and the number of deaths stands at 372 thousand. No one was ready; no one could possibly be ready. The dead will be mourned and lessons will be learned, unfortunately, the hard way.

 

A Praiseworthy Nation

The Republic of Georgia set a shining example of civic responsibility and government decisiveness during all stages of the pandemic and has been congratulated and praised by various American and European publications. The swift declaration of the State of Emergency by the Prime Minister, Giorgi Gakharia, and the unhesitant approval by President Salome Zurabishvili led to a series of drastic policies meant to slow and even stop the spread of the virus early on. The radical but crucial implementation of a nightly curfew; the mandatory wearing of masks in shops; the total shutdown of public transport and social gatherings for the duration of the pandemic; the short-term ban of private vehicle traffic; the Georgian Army’s immeasurable help in creating internal border controls and law enforcement; but most importantly – the response and respect for these measures by the local population. The result: 783 cases, 605 fully-recovered and only 12 deaths to-date! (June 1)

My personal experience as a Georgian citizen, finding himself in previously completely unimaginable circumstances, while having to put up with many different challenges and government regulations, proved to be particularly difficult. The months of social distancing were mentally gruelling. The famously hospitable and socially-active fabric of our Georgian society felt threatened. But respect for our loved ones, especially the elderly, became a deciding factor in favour of social distancing and the prevention of virus spread.

There were all the cultural and social symptoms to make the Georgian outbreak as intense as the Italian fiasco, but it didn’t happen. The social openness and hospitality of the Italian people was the ideal atmosphere for the virus to thrive. But not in Georgia. I feel sad for all the countries that found themselves helpless against the pandemic. I feel sorry for all the families that suffered, not just in Italy, but all across the world. Life will not be the same; how we appreciate and value various aspects of our lives will change. The things that you might have taken for granted, seemingly minor - like public transport and the ability to get a haircut at the salon instead of growing out the ‘70s rockstar hairstyle I did during the lockdown - and the major stuff, you know? Like your health and the lives of your loved ones…

But every cloud has its silver lining - and the upside to this global pandemic, on a local and personal level, is that I got to spend more quality time with my favourite person and new best friend. Taking it slow and keeping it smaller, we’ve managed a slice of joy in all this misery. Skirting and skating on our lawful restrictions’ very edges, we had all-day limited gatherings of food, drink, fun, music and laughter abruptly ending in fistbumps, waves and elbow taps before the rush home for curfew. We found scarce happiness where we could.  

 

Our Bright Future

Prime Minister Giorgi Gakharia announced the long-awaited date during his latest briefing  - the 1st of July will be the day that Georgia finally opens its borders to foreign visitors! The National Tourism Administration of Georgia is already discussing travel terms with representatives of foreign countries to ensure the safety and health of both parties. Ryanair (along with twenty other airlines) has already committed to resuming its flights to Georgia on July the 1st. The Georgian hospitality sector has not been this well-prepared since Georgia was declared the fastest-growing tourist destination in the world! Georgia is ready to reach new heights and bring new, unique and unforgettable experiences to its visitors. To put a smile on their faces and delicious food in their bellies; awe them with panoramic views and delight their eyes with bucolic landscapes; let them live as one with nature and appreciate our varied urban architecture. Georgia is ready… for you! What are you waiting for?


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