• Some countries are planning to revive tourism by subsidizing holidaymakers.
  • Mexico’s hotels are providing free nights and car hire.
  • Plans in development in Japan include incentivizing domestic tourism with cheap travel and discounts.
  • A proposal in Switzerland could give every citizen $200 to spend on holidays at home.

Looking for a good-value break after weeks or even months in lockdown? This might be the news you’ve been waiting for – around the world, some governments hope to subsidize people’s holidays to revive tourism. (Some plans are already in place while other proposals are in development.)

To boost travel, the Italian island of Sicily can draw on an $84 million fund to grow tourism after lockdown. Reported plans include buying promotional vouchers and cards for tourists to use “once the health emergency has ceased”.

It has also been reported the island could offer tourists other incentives such as discounts on flights and hotel stays.

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Who's most vulnerable to COVID-19's impact on tourism?
Image: Statista

Italy has been among the nations worst hit by coronavirus and the closure of its tourism sector – which normally contributes 13% of GDP – due to travel bans and lockdown measures is reported to have cost the country $1.1 billion in March and April alone.

Back to the beach

Mexico’s Caribbean coast resorts are also wooing tourists with a “stay two nights, get two free” offer at hotels in destinations including Cancun, Cozumel and the Grand Costa Maya.

The #Come2MexicanCaribbean campaign is timed to coincide with the reopening of Mexico's borders later in June, Insider reported recently, and is reported to include free hotel stays for children, discounts on car rental, and offers at theme parks and golf courses.

Staycations in Japan and Switzerland

Meanwhile, the Japanese government is considering its own plans to restart domestic tourism which could involve offering up to $184 a day in subsidies and vouchers. Such deals would be aimed at Japanese citizens as the country’s borders are currently closed to foreign visitors.

Around $12.4 billion has reportedly been earmarked for the Go to Travel initiative and it is expected to apply to holidays booked through a registered travel agent or direct with hotels or traditional Japanese inns known as “ryokan”.

Switzerland is also planning to stimulate domestic tourism. A potential $1.17 billion coronavirus tourism recovery programme includes a proposal to give every citizen a voucher worth more than $200 to be spent in the nation’s tourism and hospitality sectors.

coronavirus, health, COVID19, pandemic

What is the World Economic Forum doing to manage emerging risks from COVID-19?

The first global pandemic in more than 100 years, COVID-19 has spread throughout the world at an unprecedented speed. At the time of writing, 4.5 million cases have been confirmed and more than 300,000 people have died due to the virus.

As countries seek to recover, some of the more long-term economic, business, environmental, societal and technological challenges and opportunities are just beginning to become visible.

To help all stakeholders – communities, governments, businesses and individuals understand the emerging risks and follow-on effects generated by the impact of the coronavirus pandemic, the World Economic Forum, in collaboration with Marsh and McLennan and Zurich Insurance Group, has launched its COVID-19 Risks Outlook: A Preliminary Mapping and its Implications - a companion for decision-makers, building on the Forum’s annual Global Risks Report.

The report reveals that the economic impact of COVID-19 is dominating companies’ risks perceptions.

Companies are invited to join the Forum’s work to help manage the identified emerging risks of COVID-19 across industries to shape a better future. Read the full COVID-19 Risks Outlook: A Preliminary Mapping and its Implications report here, and our impact story with further information.

Test and stay

Other nations are taking a perhaps less glamorous approach to reassuring visitors. The Portuguese island of Madeira is offering free coronavirus tests to visitors when its borders reopen to international tourists on 1 July.

Iceland too is planning free coronavirus tests for all arrivals when it reopens its borders on 15 June. Anyone testing positive will have to self-isolate for 14 days.

Cyprus says tourists who fall ill with COVID-19 while visiting the island will have all their accommodation, food and medical costs paid for by the government while they are quarantined.

In April, it said the world faced the loss of 100 million global tourism jobs, two thirds of them in Asia.