Given the COVID-19 global health emergency and its economic and social impacts in different businesses, particularly in the tourism industry, the Philippine Travel Agencies Association (PTAA) spearheaded the request for assistance from the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) on a few important matters alongside Tourism Congress of the Philippines, Pacific Asia Travel Association, and other travel-related organizations.
“Business owners and other stakeholders in the tourism industry continue to face financial challenges brought about by the pandemic. No one can guarantee exactly when domestic and international travels would be in full swing again, which is what we are all praying for to happen very soon. For now, the PTAA and other organizations are trying our best to beat the odds and survive, but we also need the support of other government agencies and local government units,” laments PTAA president Michelle Taylan. Through the initiatives of Taylan and PTAA organization, support from DILG had came to light for the travel and tourism industry.
An emergency meeting with Undersecretary (Usec) for operations Epimaco Densing III delved deeper into how DILG could intercede and expedite the requests of travel-related groups during this trying period. The organizations are hoping for the easing of business permits and other regulatory requirements of the local governments and further compassion through available forms of assistance during the pandemic, including the rationalization of the computation of local business tax and reasonable discount on fees. All these are deemed to provide valuable leeway for business owners as they find their way to recovery.
In the pursuit of PTAA to aid the distressed travel and tourism industry and after a dialogue with DILG Usec Densing III, an assembly was orchestrated by DILG office. Government agencies such as Department of Toursim (DOT), Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), Bureau Of Local Government Finance (BLGF), National Association of Business Permit and Licensing Office (NABPLO), and Governor of Quirino province were invited to shed light and support to the industry. Main topics discussed were in relation to the business permit, local requirement challenges, and the ‘colorum’ travel business owners or those businesses functioning without a permit. These were just some the travel and tourism industry business owners are currently facing. Discussion on the matter was realized and spokesperson from BLGF and NABPLO clarified some of the issues raised.
Another important focal point of discussion was the uniformity or standardization requirements when travelling. As of now, it is still supported per local government as it is dependent on the number of cases a certain region or area is currently facing. Nevertheless, DOT Usec Edwin Enrile expressed his intention to revisit these travel requirement protocols creating uniformity and standardization. He also communicated his interest to model Thailand’s ‘Phuket sandbox’ quarantine wherein foreign travelers will be permitted to quarantine by the beach or in a resort.
It was a fruitful and productive assembly as concerns of the travel and tourism industry were sincerely heard by the different government agencies.
“Our unity and consorted effort are key in overcoming these tough times. And I am grateful to everyone who is moving forward in solidarity with all industry stakeholders in making Philippine tourism resurgence possible. We are looking forward to continue the dialogue with the good office of DILG,” Taylan shares with optimism.
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