Tourism industry presses call for gov’t credit facility

Published August 20, 2020, 1:37 PM

by Bernie Cahiles-Magkilat

The tourism industry, which employs 5.7 million Filipinos, has reiterated its appeal for government to provide a credit facility under the Bayanihan 2 bill to assist ailing micro, small and medium enterprises to recover.

The Tourism Congress of the Philippines (TCP), along with over 50 national and regional associations representing various tourism sectors, issued this appeal that the P10 billion proposed fund for the industry under the Senate version of the Bayanihan 2 be considered.

“A P10 billion credit facility would allow us, the micro and small players of the industry, to quickly recover from the COVID-19 pandemic,” the group.

TCP lamented that the House version of Bayanihan 2 redirected the proposed rescue fund instead to the Tourism Infrastructure and Enterprise Zone Authority (TIEZA) to help the industry’s recovery.  “We believe that the priority in this critical period is an emergency rescue package for tourism businesses like ours,” said TCP, headed by Jose Clemente III.

According to TCP, the tourism industry is made up of 70 percent MSMEs and has been severely affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. Travel restrictions for most of the first half of this year have pushed us to the brink of bankruptcy and will surely nudge us over the edge in the coming weeks with no intervention by the government.

 “We are the small tour operators, travel agencies, transport operators, resorts and hotels, restaurants, dive shops, suppliers and service providers employing the drivers, waiters, booking agents, tour guides, dive masters and other workers who turn the wheels of the entire industry,” the group said in a statement.

 The tourism industry also employs 5.7 million workers and contributes close to 13 percent of the country’s gross domestic product.

According to the Philippine Statistics Authority, 99.9 percent of the 144,640 establishments in accommodation and food and service activities are considered micro, small and medium enterprises. To date, an estimated 4.8 million formal and informal tourism industry workers have been affected by the various levels of community quarantines in the Philippines.

 “We are not asking for a doleout and neither will it be so.  We are seeking credit facilities, to be administered by the government financing institutions like the Development Bank of the Philippines and the Land Bank of the Philippines, to provide us with loans that will tide us over. The funds will help us rehabilitate our facilities and upgrade our businesses to conform with the current health and safety standards set by the authorities and more importantly, help our employees financially. We committed to paying these emergency loans as tourism restarts domestically and globally,” the group concluded.