STA, 17 June 2021 - The government has passed an emergency law to help the embattled tourism sector. The package is worth EUR 243.5 million, with new tourist vouchers accounting for the bulk of new spending. Businesses think the aid falls short.
All adults residing in Slovenia as of 30 June will get a EUR 100 voucher to spend on activities ranging from tourism and restaurants to sports and culture. Those under 18 will get vouchers worth EUR 50. The total value of the vouchers is EUR 192 million.
Last year adults got tourism vouchers worth EUR 200 each and children EUR 50 each redeemable at accommodation providers, a package worth almost EUR 357 million. As of mid-May, EUR 130 million in vouchers had been redeemed.
The second principal measure is a package of furlough subsidies for the sector worth EUR 20m from 1 July, when the national furlough scheme expires, until 30 September, with the option of expansion until the end of the year.
Other measures in the new bill include subsidised holiday allowance, refunds of expenses for the convention industry, and a 25% refund of expenses for film and audiovisual production.
Additional money for the sector will also come from EU funds. Monika Kirbiš Rojs, state secretary at the Government Office for Development and European Cohesion Policy, told an event today that EUR 127 million in grants would be available for tourism investments under the national recovery and resilience plan.
"We're one of the few member states that decided to invest in tourism and culture. These two industries have suffered substantial damage during the Covid-19 pandemic and had not had sufficient investments in the past. We want to make up for that," she said.
Businesses voiced disappointment with the legislation, noting that they had expected much more given how the sector has suffered through the pandemic.
The Chamber of Trade Crafts and Small Business (OZS) said the legislation fell short as several measures that had been discussed with them did not make the cut.
"We appeal to the government to include certain aid instruments that we had been promised," OZS president Branko Meh said in a press release.
The Slovenian Business Club aired similar grievances, stressing that the sector remained subject to certain restrictions that no longer apply to most businesses after it had been shut down longer than any other sector.
"We agree that measures cannot last unreasonably long ... But we must now forget that not all industries and companies are in the same position and have not been equally affected by the epidemic," it said.
Commenting on the criticism, Economy Minister Zdravko Počivalšek said it was true that "some of our measures" did not make the cut, but he stressed that the government had to be mindful of the state of public finances.
He also said that many previous measures had significantly helped the industry. "In total, we will have provided nearly a billion euro in aid to the industry," he wrote on Twitter.