Measures presented to ensure liquidity and activity in the tourism sector

Date

2020 05 06

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In order to manage the crisis and mitigate its impact on the tourism sector, the Ministry of the Economy and Innovation presented to the Government a plan for the tourism sector promotion, which includes measures to reduce the effects of COVID-19, as well as measures to promote the tourism sector after the quarantine and measures to transform the tourism system. Approximately EUR 45 million from the state budget are planned to be allotted for the implementation of these measures.

In order to ensure the liquidity of the tourism sector, a new instrument is planned to provide an interest-free loan to tour operators to enable them to settle immediately with tourists who have refused travel vouchers.

In order to regulate the relations between tour operators and insurers, the Ministry of the Economy and Innovation has initiated amendments to the Law on State Debt proposing that the guarantee institution may provide guarantees for covering part of the insurance or guarantee benefit paid by the insurance company under a suretyship insurance contract or by a financial institution under a granted financial guarantee to the tour operator established in the Republic of Lithuania.  It also provides for a return to the creation of a travel guarantee fund model to compensate for the losses incurred by tourists as a result of the insolvency of tour operators. The allocations of the Fund would be used in case the tour operator’s suretyship insurance or financial guarantee were insufficient. 

In addition, compensations will be provided for Lithuanian tour operators for the transportation of tourists from abroad after the declaration of an emergency situation.

To promote the tourism sector after COVID-19, marketing measures will also be developed aimed to promote tourism on local and closest priority tourism markets. The measures would be implemented by the public body Travel Lithuania. It is planned that tourists from neighbouring markets would help to recover the inbound tourism. It is therefore important to promote internal tourism consumption and attract tourists from the neighbouring countries traveling by surface transport. 

In order to encourage the recovery of tourism sector after COVID-19, it is planned to create a system of holiday vouchers for medical people working in Lithuania. The services of creating and issuing holiday vouchers would be provided by a local tour operator contacted by medical professionals. The estimated value of a holiday coupon will not exceed EUR 200. Medical professionals will be able to use the coupon to pay for a package consisting of the services provided by the local tour operator or accommodation establishments (accommodation, transport, catering, SPA, entertainment, etc.).The aim of this initiative is to thank the medical people for their work during the quarantine period and to encourage the recovery of the local tourism market.

The transformation of the tourism sector will be pursued by promoting innovation and digital technologies through the development of tourism services and products. To this end, the ‘E-business model’ tool will be used to finance new business models created via introducing e-business solutions, as well as the ‘Retraining of Enterprise Workers’ tool and the ‘Innovative Checks’ tool, which will finance the purchase of services of publishing, voice-reading, translation, photography, filming, design, communication, etc.

According to Žygimantas Vaičiūnas, Minister of Energy, Acting Minister of the Economy and Innovation, COVID-19 has substantially changed tourism needs and supply. It has become necessary to develop innovative, digital tourism services for small groups of people. This requires rapid and innovative retraining of tourism companies and individuals to satisfy the new needs that arise, like the need for nature guides for instance.

Also, there are plans to increase the financing of existing EU investment instruments which would enable the development of new tourism services.  The ‘Innovative cheques’ is one of such measures aimed to finance the implementation of R&D projects.

In order to promote tourism, the proposed measures include accelerating the protracted reconstruction of the Sport Palace into the National Congress Centre. The Congress Centre would help Lithuania become competitive in the field of business tourism, reduce seasonality, create new jobs and enable the tourism sector to be prepared to organise major conferences and congresses in the centre of Vilnius in the future.

Measures aimed to recover tourism are included in the Government’s plan to promote the economy and reduce the effects of the spread of Coronavirus (COVID-19).