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Ponta Delgada ,  April 08, 2020

Regional Government to prioritise support for employment protection in the tourism sector

The Regional Secretary for Energy, Environment and Tourism emphasised that the Regional Government will give priority to the implementation of measures "intended to support employment protection" as well as to guarantee "the liquidity of companies" in the tourism sector, as part of the strategy to tackle the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Marta Guerreiro spoke in Ponta Delgada during a hearing at the Committee on Economic Affairs of the Legislative Assembly on the measures implemented for the tourism sector in the context of COVID-19. 

In the component of support for tourism entrepreneurs, the government official stressed the creation of a working group with the participation of entities representing the tourism sector "in order to monitor the evolution of the impacts on companies and assess trends, proposing additional support measures aimed at minimising the effects of reduced activity." 

In this context, several measures have been implemented in conjunction with the Vice-Presidency, with special emphasis on the establishment of an urgent treasury support system for regional companies to pay salaries in April and a regional supplement to simplified layoff.

The latter measure was created by the Region to support almost entirely the costs of workers' salaries, which, in the rest of the country, will be partially paid by companies. 

The Regional Government has also implemented an employment maintenance programme in the Region directed to companies using one of the national financing lines. It aims to transform part of the reimbursable incentive into a non-reimbursable subsidy for the companies that maintain the average level of employment. 

In addition, the suspension of license fees for whale watching activity due in 2020 will also “tackle the unfavourable effects on the economic activity and on the life of these companies.” 

“We have to be and we are on the side of our entrepreneurs, always searching for a way to continue the path that has been successfully followed by all agents in the sector,” stressed the Regional Secretary. According to her, “the measures that are being created at national and regional level give us confidence that it will be possible to overcome these difficult times together.” 

In this regard, Marta Guerreiro stressed the "fundamental role" of the Regional Directorate for Tourism in three specific measures for the prevention and containment of the pandemic: speeding up the return of tourists who were in the archipelago, enforcing the compulsory confinement of all passengers arriving in the Region for a 14-day period in hotel units, regardless of their residence, and organising a network of tourism accommodation units for health and civil protection professionals. 

In the first case, the government added that, among the approximately 500 tourists who were in the Region as of March 19, practically “400 have already returned under this measure, which has proved to be indispensable to guarantee their quick and safe return home and, consequently, prevent the spread of infection with the novel coronavirus.” 

Regarding mandatory confinement, Marta Guerreiro stressed the implementation of the measure through the establishment of a protocol with the concerned hotel units for “the provision of accommodation and food services to all passengers,” guaranteeing the conditions recommended by the Health Authority. So far, it has covered 352 passengers (120 on Terceira Island and 232 on São Miguel Island), mostly students and displaced patients returning to the Region. 

“As a result of the solidarity shown by agents in the sector, we have organised a network of tourism accommodation units to support health and civil protection professionals that we have placed at the service of Health, which, in turn, will be responsible for its management according to accommodation needs,” Marta Guerreiro stressed, adding that there are currently "about four dozen accommodation units made available free of charge." 

The Regional Secretary also mentioned the most recent campaign "Azores is taking a break" for passing “a message of hope, encouraging tourists to stay at home, for now, so that they can then return and explore the unique nature of the Azores.” 

“Our efforts undertaken to promote our destination based on its characteristics - tranquillity, safety and nature-related products - have enabled us to consolidate our international promotion and will be the main pillar of our recovery campaigns,” said Marta Guerreiro. As she emphasised, there will be place “for a different type of tourism with new development opportunities for exclusive and sustainable tourist destinations, such as ours.” 

The Secretary for Energy also emphasised some measures implemented in this area to support families and companies, namely “the suspension of cuts in electricity supply due to non-payment and the extension of the deadline for payment of bills without interest."
It should be noted that electricity tariffs are regulated by the Energy Services Regulatory Authority (ERSE), as neither the Regional Government nor EDA (Azores electricity company) have the power to introduce changes to them. 

According to ERSE determinations, tariff reductions entered into force last Tuesday, April 7, corresponding to 3% for domestic consumption, 4% for domestic consumption under the Social Tariff and for small companies, and about 4.5% for medium-sized industry and services (large companies). 
“In addition to all this, the Regional Government has increased the capacity of the telephone services made available by the Regional Directorate for Energy, supporting citizens and companies with the technical knowledge of its human resources, namely with the provision of advice on increasing energy efficiency and the selection of the most appropriate tariff towards energy savings for each situation," said Marta Guerreiro.


Official government press-releases presented in all foreign languages interfaces of the Azorean Government Portal (Portal do Governo dos Açores) are a sub-set of the government's official press-releases daily output and are chosen for translation and publication on the foreign language interfaces based on audience segmentation criteria. The entire collection of the Azorean government press-releases is available in portuguese, here, from the GACS Press Office site.

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