• Every Belgian resident is to receive 10 free train tickets to encourage staycations.
  • The ticket offer is part of a package of measures to restart the economy.
  • After suffering badly from COVID-19, Belgium is lifting its lockdown.
  • Bars, restaurants and cafes can reopen.

Belgium is giving every resident 10 free train tickets to stimulate domestic tourism and boost its economic recovery.

Valid from July to the end of the year for trips anywhere in the country, the offer is part of a package of measures to stimulate the Belgian economy.

Other steps include a sales tax cut in the hospitality sector, higher welfare payments and a scheme to give workers tax-deductible vouchers worth €300 to spend in restaurants and cultural venues.

Economic restart

As of 10 June, Belgium has had almost 60,000 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and 9,629 deaths. Like much of Europe, measures to control the outbreak have had a huge economic impact.

COVID-19 economic impact
The economic impact of COVID-19 on European countries.
Image: European Commission/Statista

In its Spring 2020 Economic Forecast, the European Commission forecast GDP growth in Belgium would shrink -7.2% this year. The government is keen to restart the economy by lifting the lockdown.

On 8 June, cafes, bars and restaurants began reopening, but with a requirement that tables must be kept 1.5 metres apart. Shops and businesses are now allowed to stay open until 1am.

Jean, an employee at Inn R Green Restaurant hold dishes during the reopening after weeks of lockdown restrictions amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak, in Brussels, Belgium, June 8, 2020. REUTERS/Yves Herman
Cafes and restaurants have reopened in Brussels after lockdown restrictions were eased.
Image: REUTERS/Yves Herman

Incentives

Other nations are also encouraging staycations with incentives. Japan is planning a Go To Travel initiative, which could include up to $185 a day in subsidies and vouchers for residents taking a break in their own country.

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.

Switzerland has also proposed giving residents vouchers worth 200CHF to be spent in the country’s tourism and hospitality sectors.

While in New Zealand, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has suggested a four-day working week could give employees more time to travel within the country.