The western province of Neuquén has become one of the first to kick off plans to revive Argentina’s stricken tourism sector, with benefits for operators, businessmen and visitors, including credits and tax breaks.
As detailed to Perfil by government sources, the “Neuquén destino seguro” Plan has six strategic pillars: innovation and development; health safety; pro-active training; touristic investments and works; financing and promotion.
Residents in Neuquén have been allowed to undertake recreation and mountain activities since July 12.
A total of 15 action plans will be put in place intending to reverse the effect produced in the tourism sector by coronavirus.
“We’ve proposed rethinking and resetting our strategic planning with all the players involved in tourism for the next few years, with the objective of creating jobs and improving the quality of life for all inhabitants of Neuquén,” said provincial Governor Omar Gutiérrez.
Gradually and progressively the plan will permit the province “to recover and revive touristic activity with smart innovation,” the governor propounded, adding that thanks to its top-class natural and cultural attractions, “the province will be hosting a huge number of visitors once it returns to normal after the pandemic.”
According to provincial government sources, the plan for the 2020-2021 season will revolve around “rebooting touristic activity in the province at the economic and social levels with incentives and the management of economic and financial support for the sector,” among other issues.
In this context, while planning the phases of pandemic exit, both government organisms and the Neuquén provincial bank (BPN, in its Spanish acronym) are offering benefits and credits to tourist operators. The BPN has officially communicated four credit lines destined to the tourism sector totalling 400 million pesos: a new coronavirus emergency quota; a tourism line; shopping and services; and Línea MiPyme Plus (for micro-businesses and Pyme small and medium-sized companies).
Meanwhile, the Planning Secretariat for Development Action (COPADE, in its Spanish acronym) is offering the credit lines from the Federal Investments Council destined, among other things, for re-adapting hotel infrastructure, hostels, camping sites, mountain refuge huts, restaurants and skiing centres.
The Productive Development Institute (Iadep, in its Spanish acronym) has also introduced a credit line for touristic entrepreneurs aimed at contributing to sustaining employment levels and economic recovery. This includes accommodation, camping, rural tourism, fishing, mountain activities, the hire of bicycles and kayaks, rafting, horse-riding and snowshoe trekking, among other activities. This permits working capital to be financed up to a minimum of 50,000 pesos and a maximum of 100,000 pesos with a one-year grace period at a fixed annual interest rate of 15 percent.
The Economy Ministry has announced that the exemption from the minimum tax payments for direct tax-payers has been extended for the rest of the year, plus a 100 percent exemption from the monthly payment of the gross earnings tax under the Régimen Simplificado de Ingresos Brutos for categories A and B and 50 percent for categories C through to G, also for the rest of the year. Property taxation for hotel and restaurant owners will be postponed for 12 months.
A further important part of the programme is the Plan 50 Destinos, agreed with the national Tourism and Sports Minister Matías Lammens, including four works with major touristic impact. These are an eatery for the Parque Vía Christi in Junín de los Andes and for the Mirador de Aves bird sanctuary in Villa El Chocón, upgrading the path accessibility in the Selva Triste protected woodland area in Villa La Angostura and the look-out point over the Cascada La Fragua waterfalls in Manzano Amargo.
All told, the works to finance this plan in Neuquén represent an investment plan of 62 million pesos, 24 million of which have just been remitted to the province to start the Parque Vía Christi project.