Government providing €8.5 million in tourist sector aid

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IT and Foreign Trade Minister Andres Sutt. Source: Siim Lõvi /ERR

The government is to make available a further €8.5 million in further crisis support for the tourist sector, pending the go-head from the European Commission.

The main target groups in the support will be hotels and other accommodation businesses, travel agents, restaurants and other eateries in Tallinn's Old Town, and manufacturers of handicrafts and other souvenirs whose main customer base is tourists.

The decision, made Tuesday, will provide aid to self-employed persons and foundations and NGOs, while labor tax demands have also been eased in a sector little short of annihilated by the coronavirus pandemic, which began a year ago.

Recent figures show foreign tourism fell by 92 percent on year to January 2021, and domestic tourism, while it increased in some hitherto little-visited regions of the country as restrictions forced many people to vacation in their home country, also fell overall, by 9 percent.

The support is primarily to be channelled via government agency Enterprise Estonia, for sums of €60,000 to €180,000 per company, and came at the proposal of entrepreneurship minister Andres Sutt (Reform).

Sutt said: "We have lowered the eligibility threshold for support and expanded the target group, so that non-profit associations, foundations and self-employed people can also apply for support."

The sum awarded will be related to an enterprise's field of activity, loss of turnover and labor taxes.

The grant is budgeted at €8.5 million, and Enterprise Estonia is to open the grants to applicants once European Commission permission is obtained, likely in late March, BNS reports.

€1.2 million in support for land (i.e. road or rail) transport companies is also due, through the same channels, next month, again pending European Commission approval.

The preceding Center/EKRE/Isamaa coalition last year issued a €25-million tourist support package during the emergency situation which ran mid-March to mid-May.

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Editor: Andrew Whyte

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