TIEZA chief appeals: Prioritize financial support for tourism stakeholders

The chief of the Tourism Infrastructure and Enterprise Zone Authority (TIEZA) appealed to House Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano to prioritize the financial support for tourism stakeholders instead of simply giving the bulk of the P10 billion under the Bayanihan to Heal as One Act or Bayanihan 2 measure to tourism infrastructure development. 

In a letter dated Aug. 11, TIEZA chief operating officer Pocholo Paragas asked Cayetano to rebuild the businesses of all tourism-related establishments by providing the financial aid directly to them. 

A P10-billion fund for the critically impacted tourism businesses has been realigned by the House lawmakers to fund tourism infrastructure projects, citing that the new allocation made will generate jobs which in turn create disposable income. 

However, tourism stakeholders, including Tourism chief Bernadette Romulo-Puyat, decried the budget realignment under the House Bill 6953 as it was not the foremost needs identified by the industry for its recovery. 

Paragas expressed gratitude for the efforts of the members of the 18th Congress to support measures that will stimulate economic growth but he echoed the sentiments of all the concerned stakeholders, stressing in the letter that thousands of tourism enterprises are struggling to keep their businesses afloat in time for the reopening of the tourist destinations as the government eases travel restrictions.  

“The Department of Tourism, in consultation with the stakeholders, has already prepared a tourism response and recovery plan to enable the tourism sector get back on its feet. They can also be accountable in managing the finance programs that will assist the recovery of the entire industry,” he said. 

“Without the direct financial support from the government, the tourism micro, small, and medium-scale enterprises (MSMEs) cannot rebuild their businesses and pay for the salaries of their workers,” he added. 

The Philippine tourism industry has lost around P190 billion in revenue beginning March until July compared to the figures recorded last year.

Around 40 percent of the 70 percent tourism enterprises categorized under MSMEs have filed for permanent closure since April amid massive losses. 

Based on the position paper submitted by the DoT to Congress, the supposed funding will be allocated as direct assistance ranging from low interest loans as working capital, credit facilities, and for the building of COVID-19 testing facilities in key tourism sites earlier identified by the Tourism department.