International borders aren’t exactly being flung open just yet, so countries are getting creative with ways to promote domestic travel. To incentivize people to travel locally, Belgium is giving residents free train passes and vouchers for spending at cultural institutions. All residents will receive a rail pass good for 10 free journeys (five return trips), valid from July until the end of December. The pass can be used anywhere in Belgium. In addition, employers can now give their staff tax-deductive $337 gift vouchers, which can be used at restaurants, museums, and theaters.
After three months of lockdown, Belgium’s bars, restaurants, and cafes will reopen this week with social distancing measures in place. To increase restaurant profitability, the VAT rate on food and drinks (except alcohol) has been reduced to 6 percent until the end of the year. This won’t benefit customers, but will be a way for employers to keep a larger share of their sale.
In addition to encouraging tourism, the Belgian government is giving its vulnerable population — those receiving welfare benefits — an extra $56 per month until the end of the year.
Hopefully, these combined measures will stimulate an economy that has all but grinded to a halt.