The COVID pandemic raises a vast number of questions for economists, though researchers have mostly focused on advanced economies and on the economic ‘scarring’ that the virus has inflicted. Not all, however, as a few economists have been interested in the likely evolution of cities after the pandemic. They observe that some cities, in particular travel hubs, have been epidemic hotspots, while many others, usually smaller, have been reasonably spared. More rural areas have also been less affected, although with strong variation across regions.
This in-depth study seeks to quantify the costs and benefits associated with introducing a local tourism fee to support public services and touristic infrastructure in Georgian municipalities. Locally generated and retained fee revenues are one of the best methods for boosting local economies and maintaining tourist infrastructure. A tourism local tax and/or fee is an internationally accepted practice and is paid by non-residents when staying in local tourist accommodations and when receiving specialized services.
In a recent blog post, Y. Babych and L. Leruth raised several issues related to public infrastructure management in the city of Tbilisi. They observed that the consequences of poor past management practices were highly visible. But some of these consequences are also less visible or less immediate. Take schooling, for example. If the authorities fail to plan for the expected increase in the city’s population over the next few years and neglect to build an adequate number of kindergartens/pre-schools, the results will be overcrowded, fast-decaying pre-schools, and eventually poor educational outcomes. Similarly, as the number of cars keeps growing, the authorities must plan new roads and enhance their maintenance.
Education in Georgia is essentially the responsibility of the public sector (the vast majority of total enrolment in the case of General education) and has received a lot of attention in recent years with public outlays to the sector tripling between 2010 and 2019 to reach 3.6 percent of GDP. This remains low by OECD standards, however: OECD countries spend on average a little under 5% of their GDP on education.
Until 2014, the population of Tbilisi remained more or less constant, even slightly decreasing at the same rate as the population of the country as a whole. Since 2014, though, there has been a marked migration to the capital as seen in the graph below.