Members of the Philippine Travel Agencies Association (PTAA) on Wednesday asked some 27 airlines for a full refund of at least P141 million from canceled flights due to various travel restrictions imposed since March 2020.

“We hope the airlines can expedite the process and release all refunds lodged consequent to the pandemic within a reasonable timeline. These will be used to refund the respective clients of travel agencies who bought tickets from them,” PTAA president Ritchie Tuaño said in a statement sent to reporters.

The PTAA has 605 members operating nationwide, including 439 travel agencies that offer mixed services from being retailers, wholesalers, tours, and transport operators.

Since the outbreak began, the executive said some 419 travel agencies have temporarily closed with no timetable yet for the resumption of their operations.

The rest is partially open to service clients with essential travel needs, mostly with overseas Filipino workers and seafarers.
“Airlines have been one of the travel agencies’ long-time partners in the tourism industry. As the industry grew, they have thrived. Both sides need each other especially during this time of crisis,” Tuaño said.

Tuaño said PTAA members are also looking to gain some financial liquidity in a bid to restart their operations, as he hailed the tourism allocation of PHP10 billion in the Bayanihan to Recover as One Act, also known as the Bayanihan 2.

“Most of our members are Department of Tourism-accredited. We just have to wait for it to be signed into law and the subsequent implementing rules and regulations. But we see provisions there that could assist travel agencies both short and long term,” he said.

Along with the Tourism Congress of the Philippines, the PTAA was part of a group of 51 organizations that urged for the retention of the PHP10-billion appropriation for the tourism industry under Bayanihan 2.

The said allocation is broken down as follows: PHP6 billion for soft loans for micro, small, and medium enterprises in the tourism sector, PHP3 billion for displaced tourism workers, and PHP1 billion for tourism infrastructure projects. (PNA)


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