It has now been a few weeks since France and most countries around the world adopted drastic measures to prevent the Covid-19 virus from spreading. One of the quickest and strictest measures has been to suspend commercial flights and other travel services, which has led to severe complications in the tourism sector. The industry appealed to the French government, which issued specific exemptions for tour operators, DMC agencies, cruise lines, etc., and the French government has now taken the necessary measures to prevent the virus from spreading any further.
Measures for all businesses
All professionals, whatever their activity, benefit form State support during this unprecedented period. This mainly involves deferrals of payments of charges and support for appropriations:
- Request the deferral of payments due to URSSAF (Organizations for the Collection of Social Security and Family Benefit Contributions) for up to three months, without penalties (for self-employed persons, the total will be smoothed over the following instalments).
- Request the postponement of tax deadlines.
- Request an early refund of tax or VAT credits.
- Request the postponement of rent and fluid invoices.
- Request financial aid (from the Commission of Financial Services Managers or from the Solidarity Fund for VSEs, the self-employed and microenterprises) or make a loan guaranteed by the State.
- Seek mediation for a rescheduling of monthly loan payments.
- Place employees on short-time working (subject to conditions).
All the details can be read on the special Coronavirus page on the economie.gouv.fr website.
Specific measures for the tourism sector
However, since the tourism sector is a special one, another measure had to be introduced: the systematic application of a charge for cancelled services. Indeed, a travel agency for companies or individuals, which would have to reimburse all these cancellations of incentive trips, brand presentations on the Côte d’Azur, or team building programs, and see no money coming back as long as the crisis persists, would certainly have to close down. To avoid this, it can keep the sums already paid by clients. For 18 months, it will offer them the option of rescheduling their stays on the same basis or choosing other services of the same value. Only after 18 months will clients be able to request a refund if nothing has been agreed upon within the time limit.
This measure does not apply to simple transport, for which the companies follow the usual law and their general conditions, i.e. most of them offer postponement of transport, but without reimbursement.