Tourism industry: We are dependent on Latvian government's decisions

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Tourism industry is among the most affected ones during the pandemic. The industry is still hopeful for aid from Economics Ministry (EM), Latvian Television reported October 19.

Nataļja Filatova, Board Member of the tourism agency Dream Tours, acknowledged that “we are barely surviving right now. We understand that we have to survive this time until spring. Maybe then something will change.

But unfortunately, we are very dependent on the government's decisions, which were taken very suddenly, and we need to plan something in our business.”

The Chair of the Latvian Hotel and Restaurant Association Jānis Naglis also has a similar opinion, which points to the specific nature of the sector – 30% of the income comes from local tourism, while 70% – from foreign arrivals. Given that there is a self-isolation requirement for arrival from the areas affected by COVID-19, the possibility of survival of tourism businesses between 15 September and the following summer season is at risk.

The Latvian Hotel and Restaurant Association together with local governments and the EM are addressing a number of other models of support mechanisms, such as real estate discounts during the winter period or a way to defer the potential costs of fines or rentals.

The EM said that, at the moment, no such support programs have been established. Their need will be reported to the government in the near future.

Both the Ministry and businesses recognize that a huge part of business development in the time of COVID-19 is directed by restrictions.

The Ministry of Health said that, together with other ministries, it will follow the epidemiological situation and consider ways to align the economic and health factor, but this is the government's task.

The tourism sector has seen a 60% drop in volume. Until now the sector has failed to cooperate with the Ministry of Finance. In turn, cooperation with the Ministry of Economy (EM) has gone smoothly. The industry asked EM to re-allocate state grants for wage subsidies. Previously €19 million were earmarked, of which €14 million has been spent so far.

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