The president of the Federation of Italian Travel and Tourism Agents (FIAVET) Ivana Jelinic pleaded: “Tourism is in full crisis; immediate intervention from the Ministry of Cultural Heritage and Activities (MIBACT), MAECI Ministry of Foreign Affair and International Cooperation (MAECI), and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)-Italy is requested for the impacts of the COVID-19 emergency in support of Italian operators in the sector.
“The damages that we expected in our sector have exceeded expectations, and urgent responses are needed,” Jelenic said. The chronology of the situation throws Italian tourism operators into a very serious situation.
From the stopping of flights between Italy and China – and in the year of a culture and tourism initiative between Italy and China on which institutions and companies had invested -along with the decree on the abolition of student travel organized by schoolmasters, tourism and travel in Italy is floundering.
According to the rules of the Tourism Code, schools have the right to withdraw from the contract stipulated without applying penalties and obtain a full refund of payments made by travel agents and tour operators. According to these provisions, travel agencies are asking the airlines to refund the airfares “due to the innocent impediment to using the air services.”
Many foreign air carriers are denying the refund. The appeal launched by the Fiavet president was successful: the Minister of Education, Lucia Azzolina, said that “Parents of the students will be reimbursed but the travel agencies also need an answer.”
Fiavet urged the Ministry of Infrastructure and Transport (ENAC) and the International Air Transport Association (IATA) to support the obligation of the airline’s refund to travel agents, to avoid disputes that would further aggravate the situation.
Huge problems have added to this already difficult situation: the collapse of the snow holiday packages in the Italian Alps, the stop of congress tourism and business travel (due to the canceled scheduled event), and the definitive debacle of the incoming halt for trips abroad.
Italy is isolated
“The number of travelers arriving in Italy reduced to a minimum, and Italian outgoing tourism has come to a standstill due to closed entry to many world destinations, generating cancellation of the nearby springtime holidays,” said President Fiavet, “generating unprecedented damage to our outgoing travel.”
Fiavet, therefore, requests an intervention from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the International Cooperation to raise awareness of the foreign embassies in Italy as well as to Italian ambassadors, because they are increasing the travel advisories against traveling to and from Italy, creating significant damage.
Fiavet has already called an emergency table with the trade associations and with the representatives of MIBACT to request a package of support measures for tourism business both from a social security point of view and from tax relief.
President Jelinic observed: “The requests are related to the duration of the health emergency in Italy. In particular, it is required that payments of workers’ tax by travel agencies or tour operators are stopped, while salaries will continue to be paid to employees and that the quarantine is treated as a period of illness. Fiavet also asked for a layoff scheme.
From a fiscal point of view, the Federation requests the suspension of tax companies’ compliance with tourism obligations and that the State take on the payment of taxes relating to the 2020 tax period to the Municipalities concerned including those relating to the payment of withholding taxes.
Furthermore, Fiavet would like to see the zeroing of the IRAP rate (talian regional tax on productive activities) relating to the 2019 tax period, for taxpayers whose production value, net of any other deduction, does not exceed € 200,000, above which the request is halved at 50%.
Fiavet requests that the state take charge of the payment of the IMU and TARI relating to the 2020 tax period to the municipalities concerned.
“It is essential for us to activate social safety nets and tax exemption to keep companies alive,” concluded the President of Fiavet. “Every decision has its consequences and the economic damage to the choices made, and to the image in the world; this cannot fall on businesses and citizens – that must be protected both for health and for work.”