PH travel agencies plead for state aid as COVID-19 bludgeons tourism
The umbrella organization of local travel agencies is asking the government for aid to their sector whose members have been battered by the coronavirus pandemic, along with the rest of the country’s tourism industry.
In an appeal to the government, the Philippine Travel Agencies Association (PTAA) said its members’ operations are at risk after policy makers decided to extend the enhanced community quarantine until the end of April.
“As you are already aware, the travel agents and tour operators have been badly affected,” PTAA president Ritchie Tuaño said in a letter to Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat.
“We are bleeding, and we will continue to bleed for an undetermined length of time with all the uncertainties,” the letter read.
According to the association’s chief, the group is seeking the help of the Department of Tourism for a favorable endorsement of its request to concerned government agencies.
The PTAA has divided the provisions they are seeking into “survival recommendations” which will cover the remainder of 2020, and “recovery recommendations” which will run until December 2022.
For immediate implementation, the PTAA wants the government to defer corporate income tax payments for its members this year to April 2021. The group is also seeking corporate income tax and value added tax holiday in 2020 for members along with the withholding of taxes on salaries and professional fees.
The PTAA is also asking for 50- to 75-percent subsidy on salaries of its members’ employees until the end of 2020, citing what Singapore is doing.
At the same time, the PTAA wants a waiver on both employees and employer’s contribution to the Social Security System, Home Development Mutual Fund (Pag Ibig), and the Philippine Health Insurance Corp. without prejudice to the benefits of the employees.
The association is also seeking a waiver or significant discounts on office rentals of its members until the end of 2020, up to 30 percent discount on utilities payments, the granting of soft loans at low interest payable over two years, and moratorium on payment of outstanding bank loans until end of 2020.
Over the next two years, the PTAA is requesting for a stimulus package from the government, including the reinstatement of the standard travel agency commission of nine percent gross fare from airlines which, over the past few years, steadily became non-existent with the rapid use of business-to-consumer models among airlines.
The PTAA also wants the DOT and the Tourism Promotions Board to subsidize the staging of the Travel Tour Expo, its annual flagship project, while also asking government agencies to encourage the participation of all regional and provincial tourism offices in the expo.
The PTAA currently has 525 members across all sectors of the tourism industry operating nationwide.
Edited by TSB
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