Taipei, May 18 (CNA) Taiwan’s growing COVID-19 outbreak has dealt a bigger blow to the country’s service industry than last summer, when strict disease controls were introduced in the first wave of cases, a chamber of commerce said Wednesday.
Although the current epidemic has not yet peaked, sales in the food and beverage, tourism, accommodation and service sector retail sectors have fallen by more than 50%. on average in May compared to March, the Republic of China General Chamber of Commerce (ROCCOC) mentioned.
“Domestic sales performance has already halved even before the tsunami hit,” said ROCCOC Chairman Hsu Shu-po (許舒博).
The service sector is facing a worse period than last year as the current COVID-19 outbreak is bigger and there are no government rescue programs, he said.
Additionally, rising inflation has exacerbated the situation, Hsu said, urging the government to take action to ease the pressure on local businesses.
According to data released by the Ministry of Labor (MOL) on Monday, the number of workers on unpaid leave in Taiwan rose by more than 600 over the past week to more than 15,000 – the highest in six weeks. .
The ministry said the number of furloughed workers increased last week, mainly because several employers in the hospitality, food and beverage sectors were badly affected by the growing COVID-19 outbreak.
Hsu said amid these issues, service providers are frustrated with rapidly changing government disease control policies, which have caused disputes between companies and their customers, as well as between management and the workers.
In late April, travel agencies were forced to cancel many domestic group tours when the government abruptly began imposing three injections of the COVID-19 vaccine on people making such trips, he said.
Since the vaccination mandate was introduced for domestic tours, sales in the tourism industry have fallen by more than 90%, Hsu said, calling on the government to allow enough time for local industries to adapt to its policies.
Also, instead of offering marketing subsidies, the government should come up with immediate bailouts so that local businesses can at least survive, he said.
“What businesses need is a lifeline,” Hsu said.
On May 16, the Ministry of Economy launched a program that offers subsidies of up to 50% of the marketing budget of food and beverage companies, until June 15, with a limit of NT$100,000. ($3,367) per service provider.
Facing criticism that the program is weak and ineffective, the ministry said on Wednesday it had already received some 3,000 applications in two days since the initiative was launched to boost consumption.
Now that Taiwan has decided to “coexist” with COVID-19, the ministry said, the government’s goal is to help local businesses “get stronger” through marketing instead of relying on rescue grants, as before.