IS THERE SPECIFIC EU FUNDING TO HELP THE TOURISM SECTOR?
According to a research provided by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, foreign tourism will be down 60% by 2020. (OECD). So, what is the EU doing to mitigate the consequences of COVID-19 in tourist-related industries including transportation, cruises, accommodation, cuisine, and the cultural sector?
According to the European Parliament’s Research Service, “the EU has limited powers in the tourism sector and can only support, coordinate, or supplement Member States‘ action in this area,” implying that it is up to the EU countries to decide where the funds are allocated.
However, in May 2020, the European Commission issued a specific communication titled Tourism and Transport in 2020 and Beyond, which included “a package that provides reassurances and clarity for people, as well as a pathway to recovery for tourism and transport.”
The document emphasises three key areas to safely restore:
- Unrestricted free movement and reopen internal borders
- Transport and connectivity
- Tourism services, “in particular hospitality”.
According to the EU report, “tourism is the fourth largest EU export category.”
TOURISM RESCUE ACTION PLAN FOR TRAVEL BUSINESSES IN THE EU
This EU’s tourist recovery plan also cites a tourism rescue action plan proposed by the European Parliament’s Tourism Task Force in March 2020. The following recommendations were included in the proposal:
- Setting up a national compensation scheme
- Providing efficient support to the affected businesses in this sector
- Creating special assistance and direct financial aid instruments “for regions and areas depending mainly on the income of tourism”
It remains to be seen if these tourism-specific initiatives are applied uniformly throughout EU Member States.
HOW CAN COUNTRIES ACCESS THE CRII?
The Coronavirus Response Investment Initiative (CRII) was established to assist EU nations in their recovery from the epidemic. EU Member States can respond to some of the most pressing economic crises by mobilising unspent money in EU funds:
- Spending on healthcare
- Support short-term work schemes
- Support small and medium-sized enterprises
This is supplemented by a new set of measures known as the Coronavirus Response Investment Initiative Plus (CRII+), which provides further assistance in the following areas:
- Flexibility: between funds, regions and topics, full EU co-financing rate
- Protection for the hardest hit: food and basic materials assistance in the form of e-vouchers
- Support for key sectors: farmers, fishermen, and food sectors.