Hotels in Brussels recorded a drop in income of 25% during the first quarter of 2020, while in the second quarter the fall, when the pandemic hit its highest peak, the fall was by more than 90%. By the third quarter, when the confinement measures were somewhat eased, income was down by more than 70%. A figure that has surprised many given the fact that many Belgians opted to travel locally, and the attractive campaigns run by tour operators and official tourism organizations.
Figures from the Brussels Hotel Association (BHA) showed that hotels finished the year with income down 90% in the fourth quarter, compared with the same period in 2019.
The BHA is asking for support, and thus has formally requested that the federal and regional governments review the mechanisms that were put in place to help the sector. One of the pressing points is the system of temporary unemployment due to force majeure, which is scheduled to run until the end of March.
The association would like the government to evaluate the possibility of either a full or partial amnesty on property taxes. In the case of hotels who rent premises, a tax credit for property owners is being proposed so as to have the rents waived. All of this for the period during which the hotels have faced difficulties.
In the revised version of the support for the sector, the BHA would like to see that the hidden costs of temporary unemployment, which include holiday allowances and end-of-year premiums, are taken into account. Hotels are still responsible for these points given that the temporary unemployment system does not cover them.