Finance minister mulls voucher compensation scheme to help tourism industry

Finance Minister Martin Helme (EKRE) has proposed the idea of ​​consumer vouchers to help the struggling tourism industry rather than continuing to pay wage compensation.

At the end of August, the tourism industry sent a letter to the government asking for the scheme to be extended, as has been done in other countries such as Germany.

The government does not want to extend the wage compensation scheme – which ended in July – and saw the state pay the majority of salaries to workers who could not work during the emergency situation caused by coronavirus.

The scheme was intended to survive the first economic shock, Prime Minister Jüri Ratas (Center) said and there is no money for a new round of general support. Minister of Finance Martin Helme says that instead of large-scale support, companies must adapt and that means job losses.

However, as tourism has not recovered, the government will discuss various support options. Helme said as there are no foreign tourists, domestic consumption should be boosted. 

One option, following the example of other countries, is that vouchers could be given to people by the state which could be used to pay in Estonian accommodation and catering establishments.

“Firstly, a person gets something, eating out or going to the spa, and secondly, these companies themselves have to compete for customers,” said Helme. Adding this system would help to cleanse the market and keep it on its toes.

So far, nothing definite has been agreed. The application submitted by the tourism industry is also still being discussed.  

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