Tourism losses hit P190B

    Limited operations. Philippine Airlines continues to fly to international destinations to serve the urgent travel needs of passengers even under modified enhanced community quarantine.

    Tourism stakeholders may have lost P190 billion in revenues since the lockdown and are now at risk of losing the P10-billion supposed rescue package for the industry.

    Jojo Clemente, president of the Tourism Congress of the Philippines, in a forum said the industry will appeal to the Congress bicameral conference committee for the restoration of the P10-billion financial assistance in the proposed Bayanihan Act 2.

    The House version has appropriated the fund to tourism infrastructure while Senate had allocated it for loans.

    According to Clemente, the tourism industry needs working capital to restart and save its 5.7 million jobs.

    Between March and July, Clemente said revenues reached only P7 billion compared with P196 billion in the same period in 2019.

    Some P20 billion has been lost in ticket sales alone, excluding hotels and tours.

    Clemente said to serve all the stakeholders of tourism, the industry needs P80 billion in working capital. “P10 billion is a drop in the bucket.”

    Clemente said the industry is willing to compromise to half of the amount under the Bayanihan.

    Richie Tuaño, president of the Philippine Travel Agencies Association, wants the reconciliation of House Bill 6953 and Senate Bill 1564 and for lawmakers to reexamine their provisions.

    He was referring to the House version’s section 7 item I appropriating P10 billion to finance the programs of the Tourism Infrastructure and Enterprise Zones Authority in assisting the recovery of the tourism industry that shall include the formation of the infrastructure.

    “While we agree infrastructure development is vital to the tourism industry, we believe the more urgent matter at this point in time is ensuring the survival of an industry on the verge of collapse due to the effect of the pandemic.

    We need direct infusions to the stakeholders in the form of zero to low interest loans with longer payment periods to allow us to fully recover from the effects of COVID-19. Infrastructure development can be done as conditions normalize,” Tuaño said.

    “We therefore request that the amount appropriated for infrastructure development be uses instead to fulfill the provision in section 3 pertaining to actions to be taken by the Department of Tourism and consistent with the Senate version of the bill,” he added.

    Tourism in 2019 brought in over P3 trillion in revenues and contributed 13 percent to GDP.
    Arrivals in the first seven months have plunged 73 percent to 1.38 million tourists while revenues dropped 72 percent to P81 billion. (I.Isip)