Portuguese Minister of Economy receives new package of aid to Portuguese tourism
LISBON (Reuters) - The government of Portugal is preparing a support package for the faltering tourism sector, including loan repayment terms, debt instruments for capital and subsidies, the Portuguese Economy Minister said on Wednesday.
Economy Minister Pedro Siza Vieira told a parliamentary committee that the package aims to ensure that companies in the sector survive the crisis "without their balance sheets being overloaded with debt".
"Tourism will need more intensive support ... These companies will run out after a year of epidemic in which their (financial) reserves have been used up," said Siza Vieira.
Tourist revenues have played an important role in Portugal's recovery from the economic and debt crisis of 2010, with Portugal's GDP reaching 15% in 2019.
But government data showed that travel closures and restrictions during the epidemic paralyzed the industry, with a third of the normal number of tourists visiting the country at the height of the tourist season last summer.
The sector's revenues are expected to drop 80% in 2020, according to the Portuguese Hospitality Association, which said in a statement this Wednesday that another 100,000 jobs could be lost this year if it does not receive targeted support.
"Midsize hotels will not survive the long winter of tourism and, during their reopening, will not be here to boost the country's economy," said Raul Martins, president of ABB.
Siza Vieira said that the government is also discussing with Banco de Portugal and the Portuguese Banking Association the extension of the repayment of loans currently in effect until September, as well as the postponement of the maturity of the remaining debts.