One Country Is Considering Giving Money To Citizens For Domestic Travel
We’ve seen here in the United States that one of the fixes for the airline industry collapse is stimulus money. Well, once country is considering another method. Poland’s Ministry of Development and the Polish Tourist Organization are considering providing vouchers to Polish citizens to use toward domestic travel. The government is considering a voucher worth 1,000 zloty (~$238).
Travel Weekly reports that the details of the program are still under consideration. But the program, dubbed the “1000 Plus Program” but the Ministry of Development hopes to shore up domestic travel post-coronavirus. The vouchers would be good for leisure and activity travel.
The Tourist Polish Organization’s has encouraged Polish citizens to reschedule travel rather than cancel it. They’ve pushed an initiative entitled “Don’t Cancel, Change the Date. Support tourism.” The organization has sought to implore people to stay home but to plan for travel upon a return to normal. The 1000 Plus Program seems to match with the organization’s purpose to get people moving once travel becomes safer.
As of April 22, 2020, Poland had 10,169 cases of coronavirus and 426 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University.
Is This A Good Idea?
Of course, this is using taxpayer dollars to encourage taxpayers to travel. But in comparison to government handouts where airlines receive billions in grant money, it actually is a step up. Consider that this is the type of expense where taxpayers, companies, and employees in the travel industry all win out. Taxpayers get a trip they help subsidize. Meanwhile, airlines, hotels, and other travel companies in Poland get customers. And lastly, employees in the travel industry continue to work due to the demand.
According to the Organization for Cooperation and Development (OECD), Romania introduced a similar program in 2018. The Romanian government provided a €300 (~$325 USD) voucher to Romanians for domestic travel. The voucher covered any domestic destination and covered accommodation, transport, spa and wellness centers, food and beverages, and entertainment.
The OECD report on Romania reported that the program was a success. OCED reported that the program increased domestic tourism.
It Is A Different Approach
The approach is definitely different, and it avoids a total taxpayer bailout in the sense of simply handing over billions to airlines. Unlike stimulus money given to airlines, there is a symbiotic relationship where taxpayers actually get a tangible return on their investment: travel.
It’s unlikely this will happen in the U.S., but it’s an intriguing concept. And it will be interesting to see what the program looks like if Poland does actually enact it.
Airlines and government are both trying to find ways to stem the impacts of the coronavirus pandemic. As planes fly nearly empty and normal capacity is shrunk, in some cases by over 95%, airlines are trying to find ways to survive. Poland is one of a string of ideas that will likely come out of this crisis. It’s hard to predict what will be successful, but it will be interesting to see the results.