Tico Municipalities Analyze Ways to Help Tourism Companies Affected by the Pandemic

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    The National Chamber of Tourism (Canatur) announced the formation of a working commission, in conjunction with the National Union of Local Governments (UNGL), to help in the reactivation of the tourism industry at the local levels.

    In this way, it seeks to coordinate actions between the companies affected by the Pandemic and the municipalities. Mainly, they will focus on the reduction of patent payments and extensions in the cancellation of local taxes.

    Gradual recovery

    “The full recovery of the industry will take 2.5 to 4 years to reach a stabilization stage. Possibly, several more years to return to stages of development and growth”, stated the President of Canatur, Rubén Acón.

    For his part, the leader of the UNGL and mayor of San José, Johnny Araya, explained that the objective is to develop “actions that can be taken to support this strategic sector of the economy.”

    IFAM and ICT coordination

    As announced this past week the Costa Rican Tourism Institute (ICT), the Municipal Development and Advisory Institute (IFAM) and local governments are managing payment arrangements for companies that have debts with their municipal taxes.

    “Without a doubt, it will be a year of relief, in the payment of patents. Because patents are based on the income of companies and the year 2020 was very difficult”, said the Minister of Tourism, Gustavo Segura.

    This would be one of the measures promoted by the ICT to try to mitigate the crisis that the sector is experiencing, which is up to 10 times greater than in comparison with other industries, according to data from the Central Bank.

    For example, the contraction in the economic activity of hotels and restaurants was almost 50% in 2020. In total, Canatur estimated the total losses for the sector at around $ 3,000 million and a direct impact on more than 100,000 families that depend on this activity. To this, it should be noted that 2021 does not seem to bring a solution with it. According to ICT estimates, a total of between 400,000 to 1.6 million visitors are expected this year.

    Air travel

    During 2020, the country only received 1,011,912 entries to the country’s airports. This is equivalent to 66% less than in 2019. To this must be added the impact of new restrictions that may arise in other latitudes and hinder the arrival of visitors to the country by air.

    This, coupled with a slowness in the provision of public funds to the affected companies, have already billed dozens of Tico companies. The most notorious case, so far, occurred since last February 1st when the company Ríos Tropicales, with more than 35 years of operating in the country, announced its definitive closure. Among the reasons, the founder and President, Rafael Gallo, denounced an “overwhelming slowness” in the aid available.

    Since last year, the Government announced the creation of the “Law for the Creation of the National Fund of Guarantees” The project seeks to inject $ 300 million into companies that have suffered losses as a result of the Pandemic. It is currently on the Tax Affairs Committee. However, it should be noted that spokesmen for the tourism industry have pointed out several shortcomings in the current text.

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