Health and Healthcare Systems

These are the countries looking to subsidize holidays after COVID-19

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Back to the beach? Image: Unsplash/Denis Oliveira

Douglas Broom
Senior Writer, Forum Agenda
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  • 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.)

Have you read?

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.

Coronavirus china virus health healthcare who world health organization disease deaths pandemic epidemic worries concerns Health virus contagious contagion viruses diseases disease lab laboratory doctor health dr nurse medical medicine drugs vaccines vaccinations inoculations technology testing test medicinal biotechnology biotech biology chemistry physics microscope research influenza flu cold common cold bug risk symptomes respiratory china iran italy europe asia america south america north washing hands wash hands coughs sneezes spread spreading precaution precautions health warning covid 19 cov SARS 2019ncov wuhan sarscow wuhanpneumonia  pneumonia outbreak patients unhealthy fatality mortality elderly old elder age serious death deathly deadly
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.

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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.

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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.

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