COVID-19 has impacted the events, tourism, and hospitality industries throughout most parts of the world, prompting the need for empirical work to explore the perspectives and responses of industry stakeholders towards the pandemic. To characterize how managers in this space evaluated the impacts of the pandemic and the associated response system(s) and learning stories, in-depth interviews with N = 24 senior event and tourism managers in Iran were conducted. The findings revealed that COVID-19 was a complex external crisis that significantly fueled other internal crises, impacting the complex event and tourism system. The data revealed that understanding the full effects of the pandemic depends on how sufficiently Iranian stakeholders acquired knowledge of the virus and the scope of its outcomes on the layered event and tourism system. The profound structural and transformational changes to this system necessitate the call for a uniform, coevolving responses from multiple events, tourism, sport, and associated management/industrial sectors. Adaption to the new normal and transformational opportunities were recommended by interviewees as influential strategies extracted from crisis lessons learned.
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