Public Sector

Post-pandemic tourism industry

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Our Advisory team tells of its experience of collaboration with the National Ministry of Tourism and Sports in the execution of the Plan for Aid, Training and Infrastructure for Tourism (PACIT) during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The tourism industry during the pandemic

On March 20, 2020, the National Government decreed the beginning of the Preventive and Mandatory Social Isolation (ASPO) as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. The measure was announced until March 31, but was extended until November 9, the day on which the Preventive and Mandatory Social Distancing (DISPO) began to take effect.

During this period, the tourism sector was one of the most affected. Therefore, to "preserve companies and protect employees" until the regularization of the activity -which took more time than other industries, due to the crowding of people it causes-, the Ministry of Tourism and Sports designed the Aid Plan, Training and Tourism Infrastructure (PACIT).

The PACIT was an investment of more than AR$4,500 million and was made up of three complementary funds: the Aid Fund for Tourist Providers (APTur), aimed at providers of complementary tourist activities, such as guides and travel agents; the Plan 50 destinations, for tourist infrastructure works in the 24 Argentine provinces; and the Tourism Aid and Training Fund (FACT). The latter financed non-refundable contributions (ANRs) for the payment of salaries and other working capital expenses of micro, small and medium tourism companies.

With benefits of $3,000 million, FACT supported 2,500 tourist lodging and accommodation companies, travel and tourism agencies, gastronomic establishments, and tourist recreation services so that they can cover expenses and protect the more than 38,000 jobs they had until 2020.

The main objectives of the Fund were to maintain the staffing of the benefited companies, establish compliance milestones for staff training, improve the offer of the tourist service and the strengthening of the network of tourism MSMEs with which the Ministry of Tourism and Sports works. of the Nation

In return, the companies had to maintain their payroll, train at least 70% of the staff on issues of safety and hygiene, tourist accessibility, responsible tourism and gender, and make safety and hygiene adaptations with COVID-19 protocols.


Our collaboration experience with PACIT

Grant Thornton Argentina's Advisory team provided the Ministry of Tourism and Sports with operational capacity to review compliance with the established conditions, collaborating with the execution of the Tourist Aid and Training Fund during the stages of:

  1. Evaluation of the companies applying for the FACT benefit and pre-selection with the criteria established by the Ministry.

  2. Calculation of the benefit: calculation of the amount of the benefit assigned based on the personnel declared and definition of the considerations corresponding to each pre-selected beneficiary.

  3. Allocation of benefit: preparation of documentation and communication to the selected beneficiaries.

  4. Monitoring: verification of compliance with the requirements requested of the beneficiary companies during the contracting period in which the benefit was granted and establishment of permanent communication channels with the Ministry to report any deviations or problems that arose with the beneficiaries.

  5. Verification of compliance with the rendering of NRAs by the beneficiary companies and their content.

  6. Information survey of the impact produced by the FACT to the beneficiary companies.

Elizabeth del BustoElizabeth del Busto, Manager of Advisory Services and leader of the work team, highlights that "15 people worked on the project for more than a year, given that in the Program review period extensions were granted to companies that did not approve all the renditions to prevent them from being left without the benefit" and adds that "as the isolation and distancing measures were in force, our work was completely remote and we organized video calls between the team and the Ministry, to give us support in the review and clear up doubts".

“We had no contact with the beneficiaries. But at one point, as there were many queries, we had access to emails to help the Ministry and we answered questions related to the presentations. In total, we analyzed the data of more than 4,200 companies, of which 2,579 were shortlisted”, says Elizabeth. And she clarifies that "the FACT contemplated support actions throughout the country due to the generalization of the crisis and its impact throughout the territory, but the corridors of the Tourism Corridor Development Program and Protected Areas were prioritized".

The post-pandemic tourism industry

Between January 1 and March 31, 2023, according to information from the Argentine Chamber of Tourism (CAT), 1,944,007 foreign tourists entered the country, equivalent to 50% of all international tourists who entered in 2022. Year in which tourism saw a growth of 2,753.8% compared to 2021.

In turn, the latest report from the CAT's Argentine Tourism Observatory (OAT) indicates that by November 2022, 44% of Argentines had already gone on vacation or mini-tourism, resembling the movements of the 2014/15 period.

The PACIT, which had the support of the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), was essential for the tourism sector to be able to sustain itself during the pandemic and today can enjoy its growth and be one of the main economic engines of the country.

"The truth is that it was a very interesting, complex and at times exhausting project, but it has helped companies in a difficult situation and allowed 26,077 jobs to be saved", Elizabeth closes.