France launches € 18 billion bailout for the tourism sector

France announced on Thursday that it has taken 18 billion euros in measures for its tourism sector, which has been badly affected by the pandemic.

According to government data, tourism accounts for 8% of France’s economy, the most visited country in the world, by visiting 90 million foreign tourists in 2019. “Tourism is facing what is probably its worst challenge in modern history,” Prime Minister Edouard Philippe told a news conference. “Because this is one of the crown jewels of the French economy, rescuing it is a national priority.” The prime minister said that with 95% of hotels closed, the government’s priority was to avoid bankruptcies and job cuts. They stated that to avoid job losses, they would extend the implementation which pays %70 of the gross wages of employees to the end of September. Prime Minister Philippe signalled movement in the country at the beginning of the summer season, saying he hoped the restaurant would be able to reopen on June 2 in “green zones” where the virus does not spread widely.

“We must set a goal, and widen our horizons,” Philippe said. “The French will be able to holiday in France in July and August,” he said, Reuters reported. This 18 billion euro package of measures includes an investment plan by state banks worth 1.3 billion euros for direct cash support to businesses. Businesses with up to 20 employees and 2 million euros in annual revenue in the tourism, hotel and restaurant sector will also be able to tap a solidarity fund until the end of the year, to receive grants of up to 10,000 euros. There will also be a social security tax break for May and June payments. The prime minister said the total tax exemptions would be € 2 billion, but said the amnesty would continue as long as businesses remained closed.