The National and Federal governments have united its forces and created a unique portal dedicated to Coronavirus health updates, measures implemented, support to enterprises, among others.
Below, a list of measures deployed in Belgium and Flanders aiming to give oxygen to the tourism sector. Many of these measures are taken for those sectors of the economy affected by the crisis, some are specific to the tourism sector:
Highlight the measures:
BELGIUM FEDERAL STATE MEASURES
SUPPORTING LIQUIDITY OF SMES AND EMPLOYEES
Temporary unemployment is granted automatically, extended and reinforced. This means that companies do not have to provide a reason for seeking temporary unemployment. Temporary unemployment is also possible for people who, for example, have to stay at home because their partner is infected (All business).
The benefits for temporary unemployment is increased from 65 percent to 70 percent for a period of three months. The aim is to limit the loss of income for the affected employees
Regarding social security contributions for the first and second quarters of 2020, the Covid-19 issue is accepted as a factor for allowing amicable payment periods (All business).
Where it can be demonstrated that the taxpayer has payment difficulties due to Covid-19, it is possible to request postponement of personal income tax and corporate tax payments. If, during the course of the year, the self-employed notice that their income is lower than the amount used to calculate their contribution, they may request a reduction of the contribution.
For the social security contributions in the first two quarters of the year 2020, one year's postponement without interest on arrears or exemption from payment of social security contributions shall be granted. Again, this is provided that there is a demonstrable link with Covid-19. Under the same condition, persons who are self-employed as their main activity are eligible for the bridging right if they are forced to stop their activity, as soon as this interruption lasts longer than one week. The financial support amounts to EUR 1,266.37 per month if they do not have dependant family members and EUR 1,582.46 if they have do
It's possible to spread VAT payments and be exempted from the usual fines, provided that the debtor demonstrates that the payment difficulties are related to Covid-19 (All business)
TRAVEL AND TOURISM
- Regarding the hospitality industry, the rules on "take away" have been applied with flexibility (no new licence required for restaurants)
- Regarding the travel industry, if a package holiday is cancelled, people can get a voucher of equal value, valid for at least one year.
NEW! EVENT SECTOR
European Commission approves a €50 million Belgian scheme for companies active in the events sector in Flanders and affected by the coronavirus outbreak
The European Commission has approved a €50 million scheme to support companies active in the Flemish events sector that have been affected by the coronavirus outbreak. The scheme was approved under the State aid Temporary Framework adopted by the Commission on 19 March 2020.
The objective of the scheme is to provide the necessary financing and insurance to companies active in the Flemish events sector in order to fund the restart of their activities, thereby enabling them to organize an event, to make investments, and to place orders. The support will take the form of repayable advances of a minimum amount of €25,000 and a maximum amount of €800,000, calculated as a maximum of 60% of the total costs of the event, as budgeted in the company's business plan.
The repayable advance will have to be reimbursed if the event actually takes place. Conversely, the repayable advance will not have to be reimbursed if the event is cancelled because of the coronavirus outbreak or of related measures adopted by the competent authorities.
The Commission found that the Belgian scheme is in line with the conditions set out in the Temporary Framework. In particular:
1. the repayable advances do not exceed the maximum ceiling of €800,000 per company
2. the aid measure is limited in time until 31 December 2020
3. medium and large enterprises that were in difficulty on 31 December 2019 are excluded as beneficiaries; and
4. the measure will respect the rules on cumulation with other types of aid.
The Commission concluded that the measure is necessary, appropriate and proportionate to remedy a serious disturbance in the economy of a Member State, in line with Article 107(3)(b) TFEU and the conditions set out in the Temporary Framework. On this basis, Commission approved the measure under EU State aid rules. More information on the Temporary Framework and other actions taken by the Commission to address the economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic can be found here.
The Flanders Government is developing several measures targeting tourism sector:
- Activation of a 5 million euros budget available to support social and youth tourism
- Cancellation of the lease payments of the youth hostels for 2020. This is an aid measure with a total value of around EUR 1 million.
- Finding solution for tourist organizations that are not eligible for support measures.
Promotion / Marketing
Development “Flanders Holiday Region 2.0”, launched by Visit Flanders together with public local tourism organisations a project to highlight the positive power and importance of tourism, with the goal to (re) discover and (re) appreciate not only our immediate surroundings but also our region, villages, towns, provinces and regions. Three main actions:
- A well thought-out plan for visitor management in Flanders for the moment we can come back "out of our room": safety guidelines, time and space and transparent and reliable information for tourist entrepreneurs and visitors
- A broad campaign that redefines the existing Flanders Holiday Land brand and highlights the value of holiday in your own country (now and in the future)
- Concrete actions and measures that ensure that Flemish people in need can regain the right to vacation: special focus on social tourism
These three actions will increase the tourist activities and attractiveness of Flanders as soon as possible in the post-corona period. The precise modalities of these support measures are now being further elaborated. They will take the lead in bundling and distributing all useful information among the tourist sector in Flanders.