FEG Acts to Support Professional Tourist Guides in the COVID-19 Crisis


Published by FEG Team
Date 2020-04-28

In the last three months the whole world is in the grip of Coronavirus (COVID-19). Every country is experiencing some form of lockdown and all industries have been affected one way or another.

Undeniably, the worst affected industry is tourism, which is at a standstill. Airlines, hotels, cruise and travel agents, holiday resorts and other tourism stakeholders, are facing financial hardship as almost all travel is currently suspended. In addition, there are fears that the whole of the 2020 travel season will be lost. In some countries, it has been announced that closedowns and measures in tourism and culture will last until October, or even Christmas.
 


Guided tour outside St Giles Cathedral, Edinburgh, Scotland © FEG


Tourist guides are particularly vulnerable not only because of the seasonality of their profession. The majority of guides are self-employed, single-person businesses and as such find it more difficult to access government funding and support.

Thousands of jobs of professional tourist guides are on the line, with employed or self-employed guides facing an extremely hard year ahead. The European Federation of Tourist Guide Associations’ (FEG) recent online survey of its members, found that 83% of tourist guides depend on guiding for their income. In the same survey, 94% of all guiding jobs booked for start of the season were completely cancelled, while only 6% were rescheduled or moved to the latter part of the year. 92% of European tourist guides have received no financial help from their governments to date. These numbers paint a very bleak picture for the future.

National Governments and the EU Commission have promised help. In the EU Commission’s - Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion newsletter it is mentioned: "In the past weeks, the Commission: has acted to provide the Member States with all the flexibility they need to financially support their health care systems, their businesses, and workers....."
 

For full text see:

https://ec.europa.eu/social/main.jsp?langId=en&catId=89&newsId=9637&furtherNews=yes

 


FEG has written to the European Commission President, Ursula von der Leyen (with a copy to the European Parliament President, David Sassoli) and is pushing for more action, outlining the exceptional situation of the tourist guiding sector. Furthermore, FEG asks for support for the professional tourist guides for longer and not just for 1 or 2 months, as most national governments have announced so far.

FEG is also asking that the Commission should join forces with all the EU member-state national governments, in order to:

  • Shape a common recovery plan with a long-term support budget, temporary state aid for tourist guides from national governments for as long as the crisis lasts, with fiscal relief for jobs of tourist guides lost for 2020 and temporary deferment of fiscal and social contributions
  • Act fast on health and safety issues such as on travelling, hospitality, transportation, as well as the functioning of cultural sites & monuments
  • Decide on efficient health screenings and tests needed in the EU in timely fashion in order to prevent the collapse of the European Tourism sector
  • Fast launch of the European Unemployment Reinsurance Scheme for as long as it takes

Without doubt health and safety come first. However, FEG calls upon the European Commission to swiftly implement the measures needed in the tourism sector and support tourist guides.
 

For full text of the letter communicated to the EU Commission please request by email at secretariat@feg-touristguides.org

About the author: FEG Team

The President and Executive Committee of FEG

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