The Center Party wants a new crisis package for Norway’s tourism and aviation industries

Sigbjørn GjelsvikPhoto: Ørn E. Borgen / NTB

While the tourism industry is working to recover from the crisis, it is being met with a VAT increase and a change in the furlough schemes. The Center Party is asking for an extension.

“We believe that extensions must now be put in place for the furlough schemes targeting the industries that are hardest hit. We are talking about several thousand employees in the tourism industry,” parliamentary representative Sigbjørn Gjelsvik of the Center Party told news bureau NTB.

He is advocating a new crisis package for tourism and aviation. Among other things, he is asking that the so-called tourism VAT not be increased.

Parliament decided in March last year that this rate should be halved from 12 to 6% to help tourism through the crisis, but the governing parties and the Progress Party have decided that it will rise again to 12% from October 1.

“We have proposed that tourism VAT should be kept at 6% throughout 2021 and want it to be permanently reduced from 12 to 8% in the future,” Gjelsvik said.

In other respects, the Center Party wants to continue to lower fees for Norwegian aviation and halve ticket prices for air routes on the short-haul network in the districts.

Message to Solberg

Last week, Prime Minister Erna Solberg (H) was on a high-speed boat trip in the Hardangerfjord. There she received a clear message from local tourism players that the crisis is not over. Some of what they asked for was just extended furlough schemes and continued halving of VAT.

“If the furlough schemes are terminated, there are many companies that will have to lay off employees,” Gry Bystøl of Visit Voss told the Prime Minister.  

Fateful time

The leader of Virke Reiseliv, Astrid Bergmål, describes a “fateful time” for the industry. She stated that the boost the tourism industry received with Norwegian travelers during the summer holiday has not been enough to compensate for the lack of international travel activities.

“Right now, a lot of companies are considering whether they will have to lay off people or whether they have the opportunity to take them back to work. Since many are still struggling with liquidity, they may have to lay people off,” she told NTB.

Figures from the NAV show that in week 33, there was a total of 34,735 laid-off people – 9,389 of them in tourism and transport. Bergmål stated that many tourism companies would also start paying back deferred taxes and fees this autumn.

“Unless the schemes are extended, this will be an insanely tough autumn for tourism. I understand that the government cannot continue with general arrangements forever. Many industries have reopened and are doing well, but tourism and aviation have not yet taken part in the entire reopening,” she said.

Hopes the government turns around

In her dialogue with the tourism actors last week, Solberg could not immediately promise anything other than forwarding the input.

“It is very quiet from the government. I hope they will come up with a solution to this before the election because the time is passing by terribly fast now. There are elections on September 13, and the schemes end on October 1,” Bergmål said.

Last week, Anniken Huitfeldt and the Labor Party also asked for an industry-specific redundancy scheme to prevent thousands of airport employees from being laid off.

“It is fantastic news that the Center Party also wants this and that a government with the Labor Party and the Center Party will probably take it up. I hope they do so immediately after the election if they take over.”  

Source: © NTB Scanpix / #Norway Today / #NorwayTodayNews

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