Revamping the Tourism Sector (Part 3)

Policy Recommendations
Tourism recovery depends on early, responsible resumption, coupled with a compelling and carefully executed strategy for re-entry. The outlook is fluid, and necessitates a balanced set of interventions that consider both supply and demand-side support, in line with a gradual easing of internal restrictions.
Strategic recommendations:
• Conduct and conclude a comprehensive industry/government recovery partnership to collaborate on all aspects of tourism recovery.
• Introduce National Norms and Standards for safe tourism operations, inspired by globally recognized biosecurity protocols across value chain to enable safe tourism operations, inspired by globally recognized biosecurity protocols across the value chain to enable safe travel and rebuild traveller confidence.
• Enhance air access and implement an air service development programme to reconnect Guyana to the world.
• Continue to work with sister departments to build on the work already done to increase ease of access into Guyana for the purpose of stimulating tourism, continue to intensify work on tourism safety using a safety monitors programme in partnership with the Police and relevant stakeholders.
• Catalyse domestic demand through the phases of economic re-opening with informative and inspirational messaging that encourages safe tourism and domestic vacation experiences
• Execute a global marketing and travel trade programme, targeted at highest potential source markets (in terms of volume and value) and intrepid travel consumer segments, to reignite international demand.
• Launch an investment and market entry facilitation programme to stimulate capital investment, sector transformation and product diversification.
• Prioritise cooperation with neighbouring destinations towards a regional value proposition and a seamless visitor experience.
• Review and transform the tourism policy and institutional architecture to deliver efficient, effective and purpose-led support for the sector’s growth and development.

Proposed Fiscal Policy responses to aid recovery
• Exemption, reduction and/or deferrals of taxes and other social contributions for companies, in most cases targeted specifically for SMEs;
• Emergency economic funds and assistance to SMEs, (in some cases, facilitated through partnerships with financial institutions);
• Investment programmes;
• Deferral or discount in the payment of utility expenses to businesses and self-employed workers;
• Social safety net such as food, means of individual protection and other essentials for socially vulnerable groups, including those with disabilities.
Tourism-specific measures
• Exemption, deferral (of up to six months) and reduction (up to 50%) of tourism- related taxes to businesses in travel, hospitality and other tourism-related activities, such as environment protection fee, tourism licences, tourism marketing taxes, visa fees, capital gains taxes;
• Economic assistance for SMEs tourism;
• Discount on utilities’ expenses for businesses;
• Cash flow assistance to travel agencies.
Proposed Monetary Policy responses to aid recovery
• Reduction and/or exemption of interest rates;
• Interest rate subsidisation (loan waiver, subsidisation of certain parts of loan interest by the Government);
• Co-financing and refinancing of credit;
• State guarantees for bridging loans used to cover temporary liquidity shortages;
• Access to loans for SMEs (state covers up to 90-100% of credit costs);
• Moratorium on loans;
• Measures to ensure the stability of national currency and consumer prices.
Tourism-specific measures:
• Financial resources for SMEs in tourism, such as new loan schemes and preferential conditions for loans;
• Incentive programme granted to airlines
Policies for jobs and skills
• Furlough of employees (wages partially supported by the State); this can be done through the National Insurance Scheme;
• Direct subsidies for one-person enterprises and micro-enterprises;
• Grants from the state to business of a percentage of the salary fund;
• Extension of layoffs in the case of seasonal workers;
• Reduction and/or deferral of social security contributions’ payments;
• Exemption from a compensation of compulsory health insurance obligations;
• Temporary easing of conditions for use of social insurance funds;
• Providing financial assistance to entrepreneurs for supporting contract employees with wage level lower than the minimum monthly average salary;
• Cash transfers for unemployed workers;
• Flexible mechanism for companies to support employees’ costs and reduction of salaries taxes;
• Telework is encouraged, whenever possible and schedule flexibility measures;
• Online training on digital transformation to support companies.
Tourism specific measures
• Reduction of training levy for tourism operators;
• Wages subsidies to aid businesses to retain jobs in tourism, hospitality and aviation;
• Financial support for trainees;
• Support businesses with training to develop digital skills;
• Retraining and re-skilling tourism workers, including unemployed workers;
• Travel and tourism designated as a special sector for employment support;
• Capacity building programmes.

About the Author: JC. Bhagwandin is an economic and financial analyst, lecturer and business & financial consultant. The views expressed are exclusively his own and do not necessarily represent those of this newspaper and the institutions he represents. For comments, send to [email protected]