The country’s travel association is calling on the government to help the tourism sector as it struggles with the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
Philippine Travel Agencies Association (PTAA), a network of more than 500 members, suggested different relief and stimulus programs to the Department of Tourism (DoT), asking it to forward their ideas to the concerned agencies.
In a letter to Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat, PTAA President Ritchie Tuaño wrote, “As you are already aware, the travel agents and tour operators have been badly affected. We are bleeding, and we will continue to bleed for an undetermined length of time with all the uncertainties.”
The “survival” proposals include a deferment of corporate income tax payments for their members to April 2021 and tax holidays for this year, which include corporate income tax, value-added tax, and withholding tax on salaries and professional fees.
The group is also pushing for subsidies of 50 percent to 75 percent on the salaries of their members’ employees until the end of the year, as well as waivers on both employers’ and employees’ contributions to the Social Security System, Home Development Mutual Fund or Pag-IBIG Fund, and the Philippine Health Insurance Corp. without sacrificing benefits to their employees.
It is also asking for a waiver or discounts on office rental space until the end of the year, 30 percent in utilities payments, soft loans payable in two years and moratorium on bank loan payments until the end of the year.
For the recovery phase, the PTAA is asking for a stimulus package from the government, which would include the reinstatement of the standard travel agency commission, which is 9 percent of the gross fare from airlines.
The group is also pushing the DoT and the Tourism Promotions Board to subsidize the staging of the Travel Tour Expo event, and, with the help of other government departments, encourage credit card companies to partner with the PTAA instead of holding rival promos.
In addition, the group asked the Department of Finance to provide tax yield incentives to all DoT-accredited tourism enterprises, and a national caravan together with the Tourism department to promote and stimulate domestic tourism.