As the world is slowly getting back on its feet after taking shocking hits from the ongoing health crisis, the Department of Tourism (DoT) aims to give its micro, small and medium enterprises (MSME), a boost through a loan program that is now being finalized with the Small Business Corporation (SB Corp) of the Department of Trade and Industry.
The lockdown brought by the coronavirus crisis has forced tourism establishments across the country either to temporarily stop their operations or open with restrictions. Others have sought accreditation as “quarantine” hotels to keep guests coming and for financial survival. These business measures, however, has led establishments involved in food and hospitality to be among the profoundly impacted enterprises in the country.
Under the Bayanihan to Recover As One Act (Bayanihan 2), the SB Corp allocated funding for its COVID-19 Assistance to Restart Enterprises (CARES) that is directed to expand its loan programs including that for tourism, which aims “to administer loans for DoT but subject to guidelines from the DoT.”
Accordingly, the DoT in consultation with its tourism stakeholders has been in constant dialogue with the SB Corp to come up with the appropriate guidelines for the loan program for tourism MSMEs.
During the hearing for the Department’s 2021 budget, Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat disclosed details of the guidelines that have been agreed upon. SB Corp will prioritize DoT-accredited MSMEs to make it easier for the tourism stakeholders to avail of the loan.
“The agreement is to focus on MSMEs, which is also the emphasis in the Tourism Response and Recovery Plan (TRRP). Our priority now is to sustain our tourism workforce. By providing the working capital needed through these loans, the tourism businesses that have lost much because of the pandemic will be provided with a lifeline,” stressed Puyat.
The P6 billion credit facility may also be made available to non-accredited businesses provided that they are licensed by the local government unit (LGU).
Puyat stressed that the policy for the P3 billion program is not just a release of funds. It will be used as a cash-for-work or cash-for-training mode with the intention that “both departments are to ensure that apart from the cash, the stakeholders will receive something permanent in the process.”