Hoteliers Association Corona Aid Dispute

The hoteliers’ association has issued a pressing demand to the Chancellor, calling for a resolution to the ongoing dispute over upper limits for Corona aid. This request comes in a letter that has been pending for months, highlighting the urgency of the situation. In response, the finance minister has cited a coalition partner as a key factor in the delays.

As the world approaches the four-year mark since the onset of the corona pandemic, many crisis measures have expired, and the “Covid Financing Agency” (Cofag) is set to be dissolved in the near future. Despite these developments, significant questions remain unanswered, particularly regarding Cofag. The hoteliers’ association recently underscored this in a letter to the Federal Chancellor, expressing frustration over the prolonged delay in deciding on outstanding Corona aid payments. The association criticized the government for failing to provide compensation for loss of income during the Corona lockdowns, as mandated by the Constitutional Court. This lack of action has created a climate of uncertainty, especially considering rising costs in energy and salaries over the past three years.

At the heart of the issue is an EU decision under state aid law, which stipulates that Covid aid can only be granted to groups of companies, rather than individual locations. While Austria initially adopted a business-friendly approach to defining what constitutes a group, the absence of clear guidelines has led to delays in processing applications. As a result, several chains are at risk of repayment, while others are still awaiting financial assistance. The finance department has identified 179 companies affected by this issue, with Corona aid totaling around one billion euros currently under review. The hotel industry has also been caught in the crossfire of these complications.

In response to the association’s letter, Finance Minister Magnus Brunner (ÖVP) wrote on behalf of the Chancellor, emphasizing the significance of tourism to the national economy and expressing a commitment to addressing the concerns raised. However, he highlighted challenges in reaching an agreement with the Vice Chancellor on implementing guidelines for aid distribution. According to Brunner, the Greens, the coalition partner in question, have expressed reservations about the potential impact on certain companies. Despite assurances that traditional companies will be considered in the decision-making process, there has been no concrete timeline provided for a resolution.

The Greens have openly expressed their skepticism, stating that while they support a swift resolution to the issue, they are equally concerned about over-funding. The Green Parliamentary Club emphasized the need for targeted support rather than blanket subsidies. The government has yet to provide clarity on when a solution can be expected.