Travel agencies seek relief from permit, tax obligations as operations remain shut

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With the coronavirus pandemic triggering travel restrictions all around the globe, travel agencies are hopeful the government grants them immediate relief from business and tax obligations. FILE PHOTO

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, July 24) — With the coronavirus pandemic triggering travel restrictions all around the globe, travel agencies are hopeful the government grants them immediate relief from business and tax obligations.

“I think my industry, the travel agents, would actually look more into the immediate relief on the business permits, the tax payment requirements which is ongoing,” Philippine Travel Agencies Association President Ritchie Tuaño told CNN Philippines’ The Exchange, noting these commitments remain even while their establishments remain out of business.

“This is, I think, the first step we would need from government: to assist us in order to relieve us from these obligations that we are facing right now,” he added.

Travel agencies have been forced to cease operations for the meantime in light of international and local travel bans and quarantine restrictions declared by governments left and right in the hopes of curbing the spread of the highly contagious disease. Earlier this month, these firms were allowed to reopen their doors under general community quarantine areas, but only at limited workforce to process refunds and payments to suppliers.

To aid industries gravely affected by the pandemic such as tourism, the House of Representatives approved ARISE Philippines last month, which shall provide these sectors a ₱1.3-trillion economic stimulus package.

“Yung sa House po, meron po yun (The House stimulus package proposal has) ₱58 billion specifically targeted to tourism and tourism-related industries,” said House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Rep. Joey Salceda, who is one of the principal authors of the proposed legislation.

The bill also covers interest-free loans for tourism-related businesses, assistance for facility enhancement for compliance with minimum health protocols, and development of products and marketing for domestic tourists, he added.

Meanwhile, the Senate’s stimulus package proposal is part of its version of the Bayanihan To Recover As One or Bayanihan 2. The bill sets aside ₱140 billion, which Salceda earlier noted is the “official position” of economic managers, for various socioeconomic health programs which shall assist sectors badly hit by the health crisis.

RELATED: Salceda: House only waiting for Senate to pass 'Bayanihan 2'

Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat previously said the government is prioritizing local tourism to help the 5.4 million workers in the sector affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.