MANILA - Entrepreneurs in the tourism sector should avail of interest-free loans from the P6 billion loan package offered by the government as the travel industry continues to reel from the COVID-19 crisis, a tourism official said Thursday.
The P6 billion COVID-19 Assistance to Restart Enterprises for Tourism Rehabilitation and Vitalization of Enterprises and Livelihood (CARES for TRAVEL) is provided under the country's second coronavirus response law also known as the Bayanihan 2.
However, only P145 million has been applied for and released, DOT Director for Tourism Standards and Regulation Virgilio Maguigad told reporters in an online briefing.
"There is an existing P6 billion fund...it's a loan program to give interest-free loans for our MSMEs and we'd like to take this opportunity for our enterprises to access this fund," Maguigad said.
The loans, seen to help tourism businesses stay afloat, won't come with an interest but only with a one-time service charge, he said.
The government has also earmarked P3 billion for tourism workers nationwide estimated to be at 110,000, excluding the indirect workers, he said.
Despite the pandemic, some hotel players continue to operate by serving as isolation, quarantine facilities as well as temporary shelters for healthcare workers.
Hotel operator Reddoorz said out of its over 220 hotels nationwide, 133 were accredited by the DOT. At least 44 were approved for use by the Bureau of Quarantine (BOQ), Reddoorz Philippines country manager Miguel Capistrano III.
Capistrano said the company is working on its digitalization efforts such as contactless service to cater to the demand once the pandemic is over.
"The pent-up demand that will happen when everything is safe. We believe there will be high demand for travel," Capistrano said.
Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat in February said the country lost an estimated P400 billion in potential revenue from international tourists last year.
Despite the recurring surges in infections and the mobility restrictions that follow, the DOT is preparing destinations for the time when travel returns to normal, Puyat earlier said.