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COVID-19: V4 states’ committees discuss pandemic influence on tourism

Visegrad Group (V4 – Poland, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Slovakia) states’ sports and tourism parliamentary committees met online in an event organised by Poland’s Lower House (Sejm) to tackle the situation of the tourism sector throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.

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Ever since July 1, 2020, Poland has been presiding over the works of the V4 bloc.

Opening the meeting, Sejm Speaker Elżbieta Witek said that the pandemic slammed the tourism sector, adding that, despite the difficult condition, the exchange of information regarding the tourism promotion strategy between V4 member states on the eve of the holiday season was very good.

Ms Witek expressed her hope that the best possible solutions would be worked out in order to enable the organisation of sports events and participation of the spectators.

For his part, Poland’s Deputy Development, Labour and Technology Minister Andrzej Gut-Mostowy mentioned the unprecedented pandemic-induced situation that “gravely changed the situation on the tourism service market.” He also talked of the falling number of tourists coming to Poland, adding that in 2020 the rate of tourist exchange between Poland and the other V4 member states dropped in comparison to 2019. The exchange with the Czech Republic dropped to 56 percent, with Hungary to 75 percent, and with Slovakia to 68 percent.

Mr Gut-Mostowy recalled that the Polish government supported the tourism sector financially, amortising social insurance fees, and paying out downtime bonuses and providing help on the basis of the governmental stimulus packages — the so-called anticrisis shields. The deputy minister also recalled the establishment of the Tourism Reimbursement Fund. As the official said, the fund prevented numerous insolvencies. He also added that the fund paid out nearly PLN 300 mln (EUR 66.38 mln) to 100,000 people who signed contracts of participation in a touristic event that had not come to fruition due to the pandemic.

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