The European Commission has given the green light to Italy’s €698 million aid package included in the National Recovery and Resilience Plan, which aims to mitigate the economic impact of COVID-19 on businesses across the country. tourism sector, she announced on Wednesday.
The tourism sector represents 6% of the country’s GDP, or about 93 billion euros, according to the Italian National Institute of Statistics (Istat). But due to the COVID-19 pandemic, many travel agencies, tour operators and hotels have faced urgent cash needs, at risk of being infiltrated by organized crime.
“Companies active in the tourism sector have seen their revenues drop significantly due to the coronavirus epidemic and the restrictive measures in place. This €698 million Italian scheme will allow Italy to support these companies helping them meet their liquidity needs and ensuring business continuity,” said Executive Vice President Margrethe Vestager.
Assistance will take the form of direct grants and tax credits for tourism businesses and credits for travel agencies and tour operators.
However, labor shortages could threaten the continuity of tourism operations this summer. According to estimates by the Ministry of Tourism, hotels and restaurants need 300,000 to 500,000 employees.
Tourism Minister Massimo Garavaglia of the right-wing Lega party has suggested opening the doors to foreign workers, although his party has campaigned on the slogan “Italians first” for years.