Travel agencies welcome resumption of operations
On Friday, the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) released Memorandum Circular 20-53, which prescribes the recategorization of travel agencies, tour operators, reservation service and related activities from category IV to category III.
STAR/File
Travel agencies welcome resumption of operations
Catherine Talavera (The Philippine Star) - October 19, 2020 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — The Philippine Travel Agencies Association (PTAA) welcomes with caution the decision of the government to allow the operations of travel agencies and tour operators in general community quarantine (GCQ) and modified GCQ areas, emphasizing that it would only resume operations when there is already a reasonable demand for travel among Filipinos.

On Friday, the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) released Memorandum Circular 20-53, which prescribes the recategorization of travel agencies, tour operators, reservation service and related activities from category IV to category III.

This means these sectors will be allowed to operate in GCQ areas at 50 percent capacity and 100 percent capacity in MGCQ areas.

“With domestic travel bubbles being created along with the resumption of international leisure travel, we see travel agencies being a vital component in again reestablishing tourism as a key component of the Philippine economy,” PTAA president Ritchie Tuaño said.

“However, PTAA member travel agencies might be initially cautious and only resume operations when there is already a reasonable demand for travel among Filipinos that will allow them to sufficiently cover overhead costs of their operations,” he said.

In July, the Inter-Agency Task Force on Emerging Infectious Diseases approved the reopening of travel agencies in GCQ areas, but on a limited workforce. This allowed travel agencies to do admin works such as processing of refunds and payments to suppliers.

The PTAA reported in August that 419 out of its 439 member travel agencies remained temporarily closed with no timetable yet for the resumption of their operations.

The remaining travel agencies were partially open to service clients with essential travel needs, mostly overseas Filipino workers and seafarers.

The group earlier appealed for the public’s understanding in issuing refunds, emphasizing that the government’s move to allow the operations of travel agencies does not hasten the refund process, as travel agents are still waiting for refunds from suppliers such as the airlines, cruise lines, hotels, tour operators, and travel consolidators.

“The PTAA continues to ask the public’s understanding that financial liquidity is still a big concern for travel agencies,”Tuaño said.

“The PTAA is still in the process of assisting its members gain access to the financial packages and soft loans provided in the Bayanihan 2 and get airline refunds that have dated for more than six months now,”he added.

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