DOT lauds bicameral panel support for struggling tourism MSMEs

After the budget realignment fiasco, the Department of Tourism (DOT) expressed its deep gratitude to the bicameral conference committee for approving allocation for losing tourism enterprises under the Bayanihan To Recover As One Act or Bayanihan 2 bill.


“The recognition of the tourism sector by the Senate and House of Representatives in the Bayanihan 2 measure ensures the survival of our MSMEs (micro, small, and medium enterprises),” the DOT said in a statement released Tuesday.

The DOT said it will coordinate a large portion of the said assistance amounting to P6 billion with the Small Business Guarantee and Finance Corporation (SBGFC) of the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) through its COVID-19 Assistance to Restart Enterprises (CARES) program to provide soft loans to tourism MSMEs.

Based on the 2018 data from the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA), 99.9 percent of the 144,640 establishments in the accommodation and food services are considered MSMEs, which employs 921,292 workers or 95.8 percent in the said sector.

At the height of the budget realignment issue, tourism stakeholders pointed out that about 40 percent of these MSMEs have closed with no revenue coming in amid the pandemic.

Hence, the DOT, along with other industry players, have pushed for direct assistance rather than simply allocating the funds for tourism infrastructure development.

The DOT maintained its silence as lawmakers in the Senate and the House of Representatives wrangled for the ratification and reconciliation of the bill and ended up allocating P4 billion direct funding to the DOT, wherein P1 billion will go the Tourism Road Infrastructure Programs of the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) and P3 billion for the implementation of cash-for-work programs under the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) and for the involuntary assistance for displaced workers and employees.

Of the P38.4 billion capital infusion for the government funded institutions (GFIs), P10 billion of which will also allow tourism stakeholders, primarily MSMEs, to apply for soft loans and interest subsidy under the CARES program of the SBCorp.

The Tourism Congress of the Philippines (TCP), the umbrella organization of all the private tourism enterprises, had earlier acknowledged the approval of the bill in the bicam.

In a separate post, it said they have started crafting the guidelines for the allocation with the DOT and will update all concerned stakeholders, soon.

The DOT, for its part, said it will also continue to work with the private sector and various local government units (LGUs) in carving a path to revive tourism.

“With the government's support through the Bayanihan 2, the DOT shall continue to handhold its stakeholders towards recovery, and carry out the plans and programs under the Tourism Response and Recovery Plan (TRRP) in its full capacity,” it said.

The department expressed optimism that collectively the industry can weather the challenges brought by the ongoing global health crisis and come out "better and stronger."