Local government officials are pushing for the restructuring of loans and granting of concessional rates to tourist transport operators using the funds from the Bayanihan to Recover as One Act (Bayanihan 2) to give them 2-3 years breathing space from high interest rates.

Arthur Yap - LGUs push loan financing for tourist transport operators
Bohol Governor Arthur Yap (MANILA BULLETIN FILE PHOTO)

Bohol Governor Arthur Yap revealed this at the virtual presscon for the Philippine Travel Exchange (PHITEX) with the theme “PHITEX Pivots: Business UNusual” on Sept. 22-24 organized by the Tourism Promotions Board (TPB) Philippines where Bohol island is the featured destination.

 According to Yap, the League of Provincial Governors are meeting tomorrow, Friday, to discuss what financial instrument could be extended to tourism transport operators, which have been hibernating during this pandemic.

“We can craft a financing instrument because tourism payers need breathing space or we can restructure their loans in 2-3 years so that hopefully in 3 or 5 years our tourism payers would still be around,” he said.

Yap, who earlier met with the tourist transport operators of Bohol, said that operators complained that while the banks have asked them to hibernate in the meantime, the banks themselves continued to collect high interest rate on their loans.

According to Yap, the provincial government of Bohol plans to step into the picture to ask the government financial institutions such as the Land Bank of the Philippines, SB Corp., Development Bank of the Philippines to come up with a financial mechanism that could extend the loan repayment by two to three years.

“We may have to take out their loans from existing banks and replace that with something the transport operators would be able to pay so we can give them breathing space through loan restructuring or some other financing instruments,” he said.

Yap noted that the GFIs were given P40 billion under the Bayanihan 2 that can be tapped to help the tourist transport operators. But, he also stressed that this sector cannot afford another loan on top of their existing loans. Rather, he said these operators can be given some kind of concessional funding at very concessional rates for their existing loans.

He said these GFIs were granted P40 billion while SB Corp was granted P6 billion under the law.

“Imagine the government gave these GFIs taxpayers money,” he said expressing doubt that Filipinos would agree to take another loan from this huge fund at the same high interest rates.

In addition, the Department of Transportation was granted P10 billion to help the pandemic affected businesses. He asked the DOTr for their regulations on how the affected transport industries can avail of financial assistance.

The Bayanihan 2 also allocated P4.1 billion and P100 million have been identified to help tour guides, who have out of jobs since the pandemic.

PHITEX, the country’s biggest government-organized travel trade event, hosts qualified buyers from all over the world to participate in an online tabletop business appointment with Philippine sellers and experience Philippine tourism destinations through virtual tours with an end-goal of increasing tourist arrivals in the country. Over the years, PHITEX has become a major annual marketing event that further strengthens the country’s brand image and encourages participants to promote affordable and competitive tourism packages.

“We are taking this opportunity to harness the digital platform to explore new opportunities and markets for PHITEX,” states TPB Chief Operating Officer Maria Anthonette C. Velasco-Allones. “We are confident that as we reach out to tourism market stakeholders from all over the world with the latest Philippine tourism offerings, we will be able to gradually reopen our country for visitors and spur the recovery of the industry.”

This year’s PHITEX even more exciting is the hybrid aspect in which Philippine sellers will get a first-hand experience of travel in the new normal as the island of Panglao in Bohol will be its official venue for the virtual networking with international buyers where strict safety protocols .

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