The Flemish government is providing €5.175 million in extra support for youth accommodations and hostels in both Flanders and the Belgian capital, which are struggling because of the extension of the coronavirus measures.
Recognised youth hostels can count on €808,000 of support and recognised youth accommodations can expect €4.36 million, according to Minister of Tourism Zuhal Demir (N-VA) and Minister of Youth Benjamin Dalle (CD&V).
Last year, €14.1 million was made available - support which many organisations accepted, including ones in Flanders.
“Nearly 600 Flemish youth accommodation centres have been left empty since the end of October,” said Frederik Vercammen of the Centre for Youth Tourism. “This weighs heavily on the morale of the thousands of volunteers and staff members who are active there.”
A broad survey of the sector shows that, without that measure, a large number of youth hostels and residences would not have been able to bridge the 2020 gap.
Because of the non-profit structure and the subsidy conditions, the hostels and youth centres can only build up a limited reserve of funding.
Many hostels would not survive the crisis without the additional support, according to Paul Billiet of the Flemish Youth Hostels.
“That would mean that thousands of young people would be deprived of an offer of affordable accommodation and that would be extremely unfortunate,” said Billiet. “Every year, these youth hostels are responsible for over 400,000 overnight stays in Flanders.”
The conditions for the new support are currently being worked out and will be communicated to the sector in the coming weeks.
The Brussels Times