Philippine tour operators expressed hopes that the opening of the country's borders is near and gradually revive the tourism industry as the COVID-19 vaccine rollout continues.
Philippine Travel Agencies Association President Michelle Taylan said during the Senate Committee on Economic Affairs' hearing on government programs for hard-hit industries in the country, more than relying on the government's subsidies, it is more important to make sure they stay afloat.
"As much as possible, ma-open na rin po sana yung borders natin para magkaroon ng trabaho ang tao sa turismo. Kasi mas kailangan po namin ng trabaho at ma-open yung negosyo kaysa umasa palagi sa mga ayuda na binibigay," says Taylan.
[Translation: As much as possible, we hope the border will open so that there will be more jobs for people in the industry. We need our jobs and businesses to stay afloat than rely on subsidies.]
Of PHILTOA's 350 accredited travel agencies, almost 60% submitted their business permits which show their optimism for the tourism industry, despite the rising number of COVID-19 cases in the Philippines, Cezar Cruz, President of the Philippines Tour Operators Association said.
"Among our 350 members of PHILTOA, almost 60% submitted their business permit meaning they have intent to continue their business in spite of this situation," says Cruz.
However, According to Cruz, the government financial institution Small Business Corporation only lent Php 70,000 to some travel agencies who borrowed from them, which is not enough for a tour or travel agency. PHILTOA hopes that the SB Corporation can be more lenient with their loan packages.
The SB Corporation said communication with PHILTOA and other tour operators are ongoing during the same hearing. The corporation also said it is eyeing extend in the coming weeks the one-year grace period for payment of loans released to tour enterprises.