Financial Support to Polish Families Regarding Leisure, Including Those from Rural Areas, during the COVID-19 Pandemic: An Example of a Tourist Voucher
Purpose: The coronavirus pandemic has significantly affected the Polish economy and the tourism market. Following the quarantine lockdown and the restriction of the activity of many sectors, some people lost their jobs or were forced to remain at home. As part of counteracting the economic crisis, the Polish government launched a support fund program, the so-called "Anti-crisis Shield". When the second wave of the pandemic arose, the "Industry Shields" program was implemented. A separate shield was provided for the tourism industry, which was offered preferential loans, the establishment of an additional stopover and the suspension of all social security contributions for the tourism industry. The aim of the study is to show the essence of the Tourist Voucher Program and to indicate how Polish families who benefit from this form of support rate this Program. Design/Approach/Methodology: A pilot study was carried out with the use of the diagnostic poll method, using the survey technique and a questionnaire form as a research tool. The study was conducted in September 2021 on a sample of 438 people from all over Poland. Due to the termination of the program in 2022, the topic requires further comparative empirical research. Findings: The research conducted has shown that the Tourist Voucher Program aroused great interest. The respondents mostly paid with the Voucher for their stays at agritourism farms or guesthouses, thereby fulfilling their children's dreams, which would not have been possible had it not been for the Program. According to the majority of the respondents, the Program was deemed favourable despite the fact that part of the respondents considered the support amount of PLN 500 as insufficient. Practical Implications: The Tourist Voucher Program is an additional support, both for those Polish families affected by the economic slowdown caused by the COVID-19 pandemic as well as for tourist entrepreneurs and public benefit organizations who have wished to continue accepting Voucher payments for hotel services or tourist events. Originality/Value: The proposed solutions in the form of the Tourist Voucher are supposed to contribute to the development of the tourism industry in Poland and help Polish families to decide to go on vacation and indicate that there are such and other support instruments.