CTP, Portugal’s Tourism Confederation, has made a desperate appeal to the government. Either it expands its support to the sector, or there’ll be nothing to save.
With zero reservations in sight, fixed costs continuing and the wounds of a 2020 in which business fell to levels unseen since the 1970s, the alternative to reinforced aid will without a shadow of a doubt see the country “plunged into a crisis no-one wants”.
Thousands of jobs hang in the balance.
The CTP appeal comes as the European Central Bank has published data to show Portugal is the 3rd country within the eurozone that has spent the least in combating the pandemic ‘crisis’.
The only countries spending less have been Finland and Spain (and Spain’s figure is lower than it should be because many of the support measures have been financed by regional and not central government. Say economists, this actually under-estimates Spain’s economic response).
The reason Portugal has spent comparatively ‘little’ in terms of support, stems entirely from the state of the country’s debt pre-pandemic, writes esquerda.net. But this hasn’t stopped countries like Italy and Greece (with even more public debt) responding more robustly.
And ‘robust measures’ are what the CTP say are needed.
The confederation wants layoff extended (so that companies can keep workers on the payroll) and ‘reinforcement’ of the ‘Apoiar’ (Support) programme.
As a statement published yesterday attested: “We no longer have any reserves to cover fixed costs that remain”.
The industry has “no business, and there is no sign of recovery in the short-term”.
CTP president Francisco Calheiros told Público the situation “gets worse every day. If we don’t act fast there won’t be any businesses left to save, thousands of jobs will be destroyed, plunging the country into a crisis no-one wants”.
The confederation’s hopes pin on the government widening purse strings and ‘helping tourism companies independent of their dimension’.
Regarding layoff, the regime should be kept up until the end of the year (currently it is due to expire at the end of June (click here) and “widened to accommodate all businesses that have lost revenue and business volume, regardless of whether they are administratively closed or not”, says the CTP, giving a wishlist of measures that include increasing moratoria on credit and payments to the State.
AHRESP, the association of hoteliers and restaurateurs, has also called this week for extensions to credit lines, stressing that with the country “in full confinement and our economic activities closed, it is a matter of urgency that credit lines contracted through 2020 are extended” on the basis that without this extra help “thousands of businesses” will simply go to the wall.
Meantime, national statistics published recently show that in the first 11 months of 2020, overnight stays in tourism brought in €1.4 million, representing a 65.7% drop on figures for the same period in 2019.
As to ‘exports’ in terms of money coming in from foreign tourists, figures published by the Bank of Portugal have shown a fall of 55.8% to €7,67 billion for the same period. Says Público, this translates into the balance between exports and imports remaining positive, but having “shrunk by 61% to €4.8 billion (with negative effects on the global trade balance)”.