Supportive measures for the tourism and hospitality industry

Although the negative pandemic’s impact of COVID 19 with a significant dip in tourist numbers and presences in our country, in the first half of 2021 the hospitality sector reported a smaller decrease, even if it were particularly hard hit (source: Hotel Report Q2 2021, Gabetti Property Solutions).

  • Arrivals in hotels and similar accommodations -56.1% registered in 2020, compared to 2019
  • Presences -60.1% registered in 2020, compared to 2019

The first signs of restarting occurred during the summer season, suggesting a slow but gradual recovery in tourist flows despite the general uncertainty related to fluctuations in the curve of contagions, the progress of the vaccination campaign, and the continuing lack of long-haul tourism. However, it will likely need to wait until at least 2022-2023 for full recovery of 2019 volumes, according to European Commission forecasts (source: Datatur – Trends and statistics on Tourism Economy – September 2021 edition).

In terms of investment in hotel real estate industry, 2020 had suffered a significant decline in bargains, decreased by more than 70% compared to the record year 2019.However, the first half of 2021 showed an improvement over the same period in 2020, with investments up 37%, for a total invested of 480 million euros (16% of total amount invested in Italy).

Foreign investors are the real players in the transactions of the first half of 2021 (63% of the total), confirming a preference for high-end hotel structures – which are often acquired to be restored, rented, or reallocated to specialised international professionals.

 

Investments locations:

  • The province of Venice (42%) following the purchase of two hotels, Baglioni Luna Hotel and Palazzo Bonvecchiati, both worth 100 million euros.
  • Rome (25%)
  • Florence (17%)
  • Belluno (8%)
  • Parma (3%)
  • Milan (2%)
  • Trento and Savona (1% of the total)

 

Further, second semester 2021 forecasts present optimistic expectations also thank to the last year suspended negotiations, which are now added to the current 2021 ones.

Certainly, the supportive measures provided by Government will be an important contribution for the sector. Given the heavy repercussions from pandemic, in fact, tourist accommodation has had some advantages due to regulatory actions for the recovery of the sector, focusing on the modernization and upgrading of facilities and therefore on their attractiveness and competitiveness.

This report will analyse the main actions implemented specifically for the sector, along with other opportunities of interest to the category.

 

“Superbonus 80%” and grant for redevelopment:

“Superbonus 80%” is part of Decree-Law No. 152 of November 6th, 2021 (Urgent provisions for the implementation of the National Recovery and Resilience Plan (PNRR) and for the prevention of mafia infiltration) contains measures for to the tourism sector, the so-called “Superbonus 80%”

The facility consists of a tax credit equal to 80% of the expenses incurred – including the design service – for the following measures:

  • upgrading the energy efficiency
  • seismic upgrading and removal of architectural barriers
  • construction projects of extraordinary repairs, and conservative restoration.
  • construction of thermal pools and acquisition of equipment and devices for thermal activities
  • digitalization
  • purchase of furniture and furnishing components, functional to at least one of the upgrading interventions allowed

 

The credit is recognized for measures made from November 7th, 2021 (date of entry into force of the Decree) to December 31st, 2024. The credit also covers measures already started after February 1st, 2020, and not yet completed as of November 7th, 2021, as long as the related expenses are incurred after that date.

In addition, the “Superbonus 80%” is reserved for:

  • hotel businesses
  • holyday farms
  • open-air tourist facilities
  • firms operating in the tourism, recreational, fair and congress industry, including bathhouse, spa complexes, touristic ports, theme parks.

 

Companies applying for the bonus must either own the property or manage it on behalf of a third party, in which case the contract must be attached to the application for bonus recognition. Applicants must be in conformity in terms of contribution and taxes, as well as with current anti-mafia legislation.

Furthermore, a grant of up to €40,000 is also recognized to the same subjects, who may also be eligible independently of the above tax credit. This grant may be increased:

  • up to €30,000 if the measure provides for a share of expenses for the digitalization and innovation of structures in terms of technology and energy of at least 15% of the total amount of the intervention
  • up to €20,000 if the company is composed mainly of women/young people between 18 and 35 years old
  • up to €10,000 for companies whose headquarters are in the regions of Abruzzo, Basilicata, Calabria, Campania, Molise, Puglia, Sardinia, and Sicily.

In any case, the maximum amount of the grant cannot exceed the limit of €100,000 and cannot be more than 50% of the investment costs. Moreover, the sum of tax credit and grant cannot exceed the amount of costs incurred.

The tax credit may be used as compensation starting from the year following that in which the actions are carried out and not beyond 31.12.2025 or divest to third parties. Unless an advance of not more than 30% is required against the presentation of appropriate guarantee, the non-repayable contribution will be disbursed instead in a single solution at the conclusion of the activity.

However, it is fair to say that eligible expenses not covered by the incentives can still access the low-interest financing provided by the National Fund for Energy Efficiency, on the condition that at least 50% of these costs are for energy requalification measures.

All expenses incurred must be certified by the chairman of the board of auditors, or by a statutory auditor, a chartered accountant, a career counsellor, a commercial expert, or the head of a CAF.

To use the facility, you must submit an online application to the Ministry of Tourism through a special online platform whose access procedures will be communicated within 60 days of the Minister of Tourism’s Notice of 23rd of December 2021; the application must be submitted within 30 days of the online platform’s opening, and the Ministry will then publish the list of beneficiaries within 60 days of this deadline. The acceptance of applications shall be provided in the order in which they are received, until the available funds are depleted, with a commensurate reduction in the resources awarded if the funds are exhausted before the minimum number of recipients of 3,500 is reached.

The approved actions must begin within 6 months following the publication of the beneficiary list and end within 24 months, with a maximum extension of 6 months.

 

Fundings for tourism sector

The Decree-Law of November 6th also establishes, within the scope of the Guarantee Fund for SMEs, a “Specific Tourism Section” for the assignment of guarantees to the same recipients of the “Superbonus 80%” and the grant, as well as to young people up to 35 years of age who are planning to start up a business in the tourism industry.

The guarantees are issued on individual loans or loan portfolios for energy requalification and digital innovation, are free of charge, and are granted for a maximum amount of 5 million euros per company. Companies with no more than 499 employees are eligible for the guarantee.

 

Revolving fund to tourism investments

The same Decree-Law also sets up the “Fund for tourism investments”. Through this fund there is the possibility to have direct grants to the expenses for measures of energy requalification, environmental sustainability, and digital innovation. The amount must not be less than 500,000 euros and not more than 10 million euros, made by December 31st, 2025.

Companies that have already been recognized for the “Superbonus 80 %” and with reference to the same interventions, such as the purchase/renewal of furniture, as well as interventions involving spas, marinas, and theme parks, will be able to benefit from this measure.

The direct contribution to expenses will be paid up to 35%, depending on the size of the applicant company and its location in the country.

 

The beneficiaries of this measure may be the companies already identified for the “Superbonus 80%”, including, in this case, those holding the right of ownership of the real estate assets in which the business activity is pursued.

In addition, there is a grant other than the “Superbonus 80%”, which provides subsidised financing with a duration of up to 15 years with a rate of 0.5% per annum, including a grace period of up to 36 months.

The measures must begin and end within 6 and 30 months, respectively, from the date of stipulation of the bank loan agreement with which the subsidized loan is related, with a maximum extension of 6 months.

The financing bank is selected by the company from the list of banks that have signed an agreement between the Ministry of Tourism, the ABI and Cassa Depositi e Prestiti S.p.A.

Applications must be filled to the Ministry in the manner set forth in a later paragraph. Furthermore, until the available funds are depleted, applications will be considered in the order in which they were received.

This measure is an alternative the “Superbonus 80%” and it is not cumulative with other contributions, subsidies, or public facilities provided for the same actions.

 

65% renovation bonus

For interventions made and completed before November 7, 2021, there is still the opportunity to benefit from the measure of the tax credit at 65% on expenses incurred for the redevelopment of hotel facilities (Article 79 of Decree-Law 104/2020), which had been extended for the years 2020 and 2021.

Eligible beneficiaries

  • hotel businesses
  • holiday farms
  • open-air tourist facilities, such as campsites
  • Creation of thermal swimming pools and acquisition of equipment and devices for thermal activities

 

The eligible actions, up to a maximum of €307,693 and corresponding to a credit of 200,000 euros, are the following:

  • upgrading the energy efficiency
  • seismic upgrading and removal of architectural barriers
  • construction projects of extraordinary repairs, and conservative restoration.
  • purchase of furniture and furnishings.

The credit should be available as an additional F24 payment, without the distribution in three annual fees as required for this measure. However, we are still waiting for the Ministerial Decree to define the methods of access to the facility and a clear identification of the eligible measures.

 

Facade Bonus

Another interesting opportunity is given by the so-called “Façade Bonus”. This Bonus consists in a 90% of tax deduction for actions taken in 2020 and 2021 year aimed at the recovery or restoration of the external building facades (Law no. 160 of December 27th, 2019 – State budget for the financial year 2020 and multi-year budget for the three-year period 2020-2022).

The deduction can be taken in ten annual fees of the same amount, and it is eligible for those who worked on buildings of any cadastral category, including capital properties, and without any spending limit.

In order to be entitled to the deduction, it is necessary that the buildings are located in A and B areas (they are listed in the ministerial decree n.1444/1968) or in similar areas according to regional and municipal building regulations.

Works covered by the facility:

  • recovery or restoration interventions of the external facade of buildings
  •  external cleaning and painting interventions on opaque structures of the facade
  •  interventions on balconies, decorations and friezes (including those of only cleaning or painting)
  •  interventions on opaque structures of the facade with thermal influence or involving more than 10% of the plaster of the total gross dispersive surface of the building.

The deduction is also available for work completed in 2022, but payment must be made by December 31st, 2021.

It should be noted that the 2022 draft Budget Law, approved by the Council of Ministers and currently under consideration in Parliament, provides for the extension of the facility also to 2022, but with reduction of the deduction from 90% to 60% of the expenses incurred.

Moreover, there is no option to decide, in place of the deduction, for a discount on the supplier’s invoice or for the transfer to third parties of a tax credit of the same amount, as provided for in the previous regulations.

 

Revaluation of company assets

Those who manage hotel and spa sectors have the chance of revaluing, free of charge, the company assets and equity investments shown in the 2019 financial statements, with the exclusion of property for the production or exchange of which the activity is directed (According to Decree-Law no. 23 of April 8th, 2020).

This measure allows parties, using national accounting standards for the financial statements, to make the revaluation of assets in the financial statements, and at the same time obtain tax recognition of the higher values recorded, both for income tax purposes and for IRAP purposes, without the payment of any substitute tax. The higher value is recognised as soon as the financial year in whose financial statements the revaluation is made, with the immediate possibility of benefiting from the deduction of higher depreciation in the tax return, with an evident tax saving.

On the other hand, only in the event of disposal or removal of the assets subject to revaluation, the higher value attributed is recorded, for the purpose of calculating capital gains/losses, starting from the fourth financial year following the one in which the revaluation was made.

The revaluation can be made in the 2020 or 2021 financial statements relating to the financial year or both and must concern all assets of the same homogeneous category.

The positive revaluation balance, which is recorded under Shareholders’ Equity in correspondence with the higher value allocated to the assets, in tax-exempt reserve and is included in the Company’s taxable income in the event of distribution to shareholders, without prejudice to the possibility of choosing to redeem it by paying a 10% substitute tax.

 

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