Fast-track infra dev’t, provide stimulus measures to revive PH tourism — Speaker Cayetano

Published June 15, 2020, 12:00 AM

by manilabulletin_admin

By Ben Rosario

Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano wants government to fast-track the completion of tourism-related infrastructure to help ensure the country’s readiness to re-open the tourism industry.

House speaker Alan Peter Cayetano (PCOO / MANILA BULLETIN)
House speaker Alan Peter Cayetano

Cayetano said the House of Representatives is doing its part to revive the industry by passing a bill that seeks to allocate P58 billion for the implementation of various tourism programs.

He also urged the Department of Tourism to emulate the stimulus measures adopted by other ASEAN countries pushing for the recovery of their local tourism.

These twin moves, Cayetano said, will help guarantee the country’s readiness to re-open the tourism industry as soon as the coronavirus thread has subsided.

“Talagang may mga challenges pero nakikita namin na may opportunity dito sa tourism, if we can put a big sum of money sa tourism-related infrastructure (There will be challenges but we see opportunity in tourism),” he said.

The House Speaker said there may be restrictions in tourism activities but there is still a need to address the gaps in tourism infrastructure.

To boost government’s bid to ensure a rebound of the tourism industry, the House passed the Accelerated Recovery and Investments Stimulus for the Economy (ARISE) bill on third and final reading before the adjournment of regular session recently.

Cayetano said ARISE seeks to protect and assist up to 15.7 million workers, create 3 million short-term jobs, and 1.5 million infrastructure jobs over three years, and help up to 5.57 million micro, small, and medium enterprises.

Under the approved bill, Congress is proposing to earmark P58 billion to revive the country’s tourism sector, which suffered serious losses due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Provided under the ARISE proposal is the grant of interest free loans or issuance of loan guarantees with terms of up to five years of maintenance and operating expenses.

The legislative proposal opens up credit facilities to upgrade current establishment to ensure compliance to new health standard.

The bill also proposes grants for education, training, and advising for tourism stakeholder for new normal alternative livelihood programs.

“With the passage of the stimulus package, we can help save lives and livelihood of the Filipinos and channel our investment to the hardest-hit sectors of the economy, such as the tourism sector,” Cayetano added.

Other Southeast Asian countries have initiated tourism sector-targeted aid as part of their national COVID-19 response packages, Cayetano pointed out.

Thailand is offering up to 100 billion baht (THB) in soft loans for tourism operators, while debt suspensions and interest rates reductions can be requested by those who do not need fresh funds.

Malaysia approved a wide range of measures, including a US$ 43 million micro-credit scheme for small businesses in the tourism industry and six-month tax deferment for travel agencies, hotels, airlines and other businesses in the tourism industry starting April 1, 2020.