The government has distributed more than NT$3.8 billion (US$135.36 million) in relief funds to travel agencies and hotel operators since the Central Epidemic Command Center in the middle of May raised the nationwide COVID-19 alert to level 3, the Tourism Bureau said yesterday.
The government introduced a relief fund for the tourism industry following a meeting with representatives of business associations on May 14, the bureau said.
Premier Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌) instructed government agencies to quickly distribute funds to businesses affected by the tightened disease prevention measures, it added.
As of Monday, 2,253 travel agencies had applied for emergency funds to cover salaries and business losses, the bureau said.
It said that NT$680 million, or 95 percent of the funds earmarked for travel agencies, had been distributed to 2,150 firms nationwide.
It said that NT$3.19 billion had been distributed to more than 10,000 hoteliers and bed-and-breakfast operators.
The deadline for relief fund applications is Friday next week, it said.
In addition to providing relief funding, the bureau revised financing rules for firms in the industry, including raising the credit line for hoteliers, travel agencies and amusement park operators to NT$50 million.
The credit line for small-scale loans was also raised to NT$30 million, it said.
Bed-and-breakfast operators would be eligible for up to NT$20 million in funding loans and up to NT$10 million in small-scale loans, in addition to a one-year subsidy on interest incurred from working fund loans, the bureau said.
The Ministry of Economic Affairs offers a maximum credit line of NT$500 million for firms in the tourism industry that are not categorized as small or medium-sized businesses, the bureau said, adding that they can also apply for reduced electricity fees and deferred payments.
The ministry also has relief programs for restaurateurs and factories offering guided tours to visitors, the bureau said.
While 66 travel agencies have ceased operations during the COVID-19 pandemic, 177 new firms have entered the market since last year, bureau data showed.
“This shows that some business operators are eyeing opportunities after the pandemic,” the bureau said.
The bureau has requested that travel industry workers be prioritized for vaccination to prepare the industry for increased business after the level 3 alert is eased, it said.
A survey published by Airbnb yesterday showed that more than 60 percent of people said their motivation for getting vaccinated is to be able to travel again.
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