Covid-19 and challenges of the tourism industry in Georgia: the outflow of qualified personnel

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Ivane Javakhishvili Tbilisi State University Press
The Covid-19 pandemic has caused a global economic crisis. Restrictions imposed to stop the geographical spread of the virus have negatively affected the financial stability of tourism. Most of companies were forced to lay off workers or send them on unpaid leaves. Consequently, the process of labor force sectoral shift began. According to the Self-determination theory, people try to find stable jobs and fulfil needs of autonomy, connection and competence. Therefore, the tourism industry is no longer discussed as an attractive employer for the next few years. However, considering the tendencies of massive vaccination and the forecast of World Tourism Organization, gradual stabilization of crisis and revival of international travel are highly predictable. It must be determined how the tourism business can cope with the emerging demand in the post-pandemic period without qualified employees. Therefore, the article aims to detect not only ongoing, but also post-crisis peculiarities of the tourism labor outflow. The research consists of the following stages: secondary data analysis, semi-structured in-depth interviews with 10 experienced tour guides and questionnaire survey of 96 tour guides. The research showed that 61% of the tour guides found job in the service sector with the help of sector-transferable skills and foreign language proficiency. Currently they work as a call center operators, translators, teachers, customer service officers, etc. In contrast to the international practice, in Georgia the shift of the labor force occurred naturally without the positive interference of the government. Although most of them have neutral attitudes towards working conditions and salary, 98% of currently employed guides have willingness to return to their favorite job at the earliest opportunity. The hypothesis: Georgian travel agencies will face problem of hiring qualified staff at the initial stage of tourism recovery, in the post-pandemic period – was not supported. The supply failure is not expected.
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Pandemic, Tourism Industry, Challenge, Labor Force, Outflow of Qualified Personnel
Economics and Business, №2, 2021, pp. 163-175