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Travel agencies seek P141-M refund from airlines

Domestic travel agencies are asking 27 airlines to refund at least P141 million from cancelled flights since March this year due to the pandemic.

“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,” said Philippine Travel Agencies Association President Ritchie Tuaño.

Tuano said the 27 airlines include domestic carriers Philippine Airlines, Cebu Pacific, and Air Asia.  Among the notable international airlines on the list include Emirates Airlines, Qatar Airways Singapore Airlines, Thai Airways International, and Turkish Airways.

“Airlines have been one of the travel agencies long-time partner in the tourism industry.  As the industry grew, they have thrived.  Both sides need each other especially during this time of crisis,” Tuaño said.

The PTAA has 605 members operating nationwide including 439 travel agencies that offer mixed services from being retailers, wholesalers, tour and transport operators.  The travel agencies have an average staffing of 10 individuals.

Because of the pandemic, 419 of those travel agencies are temporarily closed with no timetable yet for the resumption of their operations. The rest are partially open to service clients with essential travel needs, mostly with Overseas Filipino Workers and seafarers.

Meantime, PTAA are also positioning themselves to get a share of the P10 billion economic stimulus package for the tourism industry under the Bayanihan to Recover as One (Bayanihan 2) bill, which has been ratified by the Senate.

Tuano said the fund would allow travel agencies not just a lifeline but flexibility to move forward.

“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,” Tuaño said.

Under Bayanihan 2, there is the P10 billion allocation to finance the programs of the Department of Tourism to assist critically impacted tourism stakeholders with P6 billion earmarked for soft loans for micro, small, and medium enterprises in the tourism sector, P3 billion for displaced tourism workers, and the remaining P1 billion for tourism infrastructure projects.

Bayanihan 2 also provides a combined P45 billion from the Land Bank of the Philippines and Development Bank of the Philippines for low interest loans of businesses, including tourism services along with air, land and sea transportation, retail trade, and accommodation.

Then, there is also the provision for subsidized domestic package tours necessary to mitigate the economic effects of COVID-19 on the tourism industry.

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 P10 billion appropriation for the tourism industry under Bayanihan 2.  

Source: Manila Bulletin (

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