Vienna has come up with a novel way of boosting the hospitality sector after the coronavirus lockdown by giving out €40 million in vouchers for gastronomy.
Austria suffered to a much lesser degree with the coronavirus than neighbouring Italy. However, the capital acted swiftly and decisively to contain the virus, with the first cases emerging in late February and a full lockdown of the country being imposed on March 16th, just a few days after Italy.
As the rate of infection and fatalities improved quickly, the country began to lift restrictions ahead of other European nations. The Hospitality sector, however, was not immune to the effects of the lockdown. And now, as the country’s small businesses strive for a return to normal, the government has devised an interesting way to stimulate interest in eating out again.
In order to boost the new start for coffee houses, pubs and restaurants, the City of Vienna is "giving" 950,000 Viennese households gastronomy vouchers worth 25 or 50 euros (depending on the size of the household). Mayor Michael Ludwig (of the Social Democratic Party of Austria) declared on Wednesday: "Yes, we can afford it!"
Coffee house, pub and beer-garden culture is an intrinsic part of a Viennese summer, but it is also economically important for the city. "Our much-praised Viennese gastronomic scene comprises 6,500 businesses, which in turn secure around 60,000 jobs in Vienna and generate a turnover of 1.4 billion euros," said Ludwig.
The initiative is part of a wider plan by the federal government, to help the hospitality industry by cutting taxes like VAT on non-alcoholic drinks, and a special levy on sparkling wine. The sector has been adversely affected by the lockdown, exacerbated by the collapse of tourism.
Residents of Vienna will receive the vouchers by post, with $50 worth going to each household, while singles will receive vouchers worth €25, which the café or restaurant can then exchange for cash.