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No-interest loans for tourism stakeholders

Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat (center) at the send-off ceremony at the Bacolod-Silay Airport yesterday, with Mayor Mark Golez (2nd from left), airport manager Percy Malonesio, and Provincial Tourism Office personnel*

Badly hit small players of the tourism sector may get a boost to restart the industry through the working capital loan offer from the Department of Tourism.

DOT is offering tourism stakeholders, badly hit by the impacts of the global pandemic, with zero percent interest working capital loan, payable in four years with one year grace period, as part of the P6-billion allocation of the Bayanihan Act 2, a government press release said.

Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat said this during a press conference before meeting with the local officials and tourism stakeholders during her visit to Bacolod City and Negros Occidental from Jan. 19-21.

To date, DOT Region 6 has endorsed 1,225 tourism enterprises and associations. There were 45,167 target beneficiaries as of Jan. 13 and out of these endorsements, the Department of Labor and Employment has approved and paid out 10,180 beneficiaries, amounting to P50.9 million.

Some 1,754 beneficiaries were from Bacolod City and Negros Occidental, with a total payout amounting to P8.7-million.

“We’re here to see how we can help those who lost their jobs, those who are on flexi-time right now, even employees of farm tourism enterprises, anything connected to tourism, we want to help with the P5,000 financial assistance,” Puyat said.

Bayanihan 2 covers all employees, even those on flexible working hours, under the tourism industry as long as employees of DOT-accredited and LGU-licensed tourism establishments.

Puyat said 18 tourism road infrastructure projects were approved for Negros Occidental amounting to P776 million, and three for Bacolod City, worth P180 million, in 2020.

Both Bacolod City and Negros Occidental are significant contributors to tourist arrivals and receipts in the region, bringing in 1,585,000 tourist arrivals with P30-billion tourism receipts in 2019 alone, she added.

Negros Occidental Governor Eugenio Jose Lacson said he is elated with the visit of Puyat since “it gives the impression that things are getting better in this area (Negros Occidental).”

“We’re happy to welcome Secretary Puyat to the province and, so far, the information gathered from her could very well help the tourism industry here as it is one that is badly affected by the pandemic. We will try to reach out to as many of these tourism stakeholders,” Lacson added. Aside from the loan and the financial assistance, the DOT also pledged to help through the free use of its contact tracing app for the tourism industry as well as subsidize the RT-PCR testing among tourism stakeholders and frontliners.*

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