The proposed P58 billion economic stimulus package pending before Congress will also serve as a lifeline for Palawan’s tourism industry hard hit by the coronavirus pandemic, according to tourism secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat.
Puyat, during a webinar on Palawan tourism Monday, pointed out that the proposed Philippine Economic Stimulus Act (PESA) has specific provisions that allow the Department of Tourism to assist registered businesses.
“With the proposed stimulus package the Congress has earmarked for the tourism sector, we look to a foreseeable recovery from the industry’s massive losses,” Romulo-Puyat said.
The bill states that the DOT and its contingents will assist DOT-accredited businesses to avail of any of the following programs: (1.) interest free-loans or issuance of loan guarantees with terms of up to five years; (2.) credit facilities for the upgrading of current establishments to be compliant with new health standards; (3.) marketing and product development promotions and programs; (4.) grants for education, training, and advising for tourism stakeholder for new normal alternative livelihood programs; (5.) utilization of information technology for the improvement of tourism services, development of a tourist tracking system for emergency response, and establishment of a spatial database to improve planning capacity; and (6.) any other relevant program, including infrastructure, necessary to mitigate the economic effects of COVID-19 on the tourism industry.
Romulo-Puyat said that through the PESA, the department will be able to carry out its Tourism Response and Recovery Plan (TRRP). She said this includes the continued assistance to tourists stranded during the lockdown and capacity-building for tourism workers displaced by the pandemic.
“We are grateful to all our legislators for recognizing the inputs of the tourism sector during the course of the crafting of the bill and for providing a substantial amount intended for tourism recovery,” Romulo-Puyat said.
The proposed bill is principally sponsored by the Sub-committee on Economic Stimulus and Response Package. The sub-committee is headed by lawmakers Joey Salceda, Sharon Garin, and Stella Luz-Quimbo. Passage of the bill is supported by the House Committee on Tourism chair Marisol Aragones and some 234 members of the House of Representatives who signed up as its co-authors.