The Cabinet yesterday unveiled subsidies and loans to aid businesses in the tourism and hotel sectors, which officials said have borne the brunt of the economics effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Under the plan, travel agencies, hotels, amusement parks and bed-and-breakfasts (B&Bs), as well as tour guides, would be eligible for paid training programs at the minimum hourly wage of NT$158 for 120 hours, which would provide up to NT$18,960 (US$629) for each worker furloughed during the pandemic, Minister Without Portfolio Kung Ming-hsin (龔明鑫) told a news conference at the Executive Yuan in Taipei.
Travel agencies, hotels and amusement parks could apply for loans of up to NT$50 million each, while B&Bs would be eligible for loans of up to NT$16 million each, Kung said.
As with self-employed workers and freelancers, tour guides would be eligible for a subsidy of NT$30,000, he said.
The Ministry of Transportation and Communications has earmarked NT$1.5 billion for subsidies to aid hotels and B&Bs, he said.
Hotels would receive between NT$200,000 and NT$10 million as part of the plan, depending on their size, while B&Bs and those that have received the “Taiwan Host” certification from the Tourism Bureau would receive between NT$50,000 and NT$100,000 respectively, he said.
Meanwhile, the nation’s five largest travel agencies, which typically arrange 500 tours annually, would receive a subsidy of up to NT$25 million, he said.
Mid-sized travel agencies and hotels would be eligible for loans ranging from NT$150 million to NT$500 million, which are to be provided through additional funding in a NT$150 billion package for mid-sized companies that the central bank announced last week, he said.
As of Wednesday, 364 tourism establishments had applied for loans totaling NT$3.8 billion, and 91 had been approved, he said.
The relief measures would benefit about 200,000 workers in the tourism and hotel industries, he said.
The ministry would raise the guarantee for loans taken out by mid-sized travel agencies and hotels from NT$1.2 billion to NT$2.2 billion, which would help them secure an additional NT$10 billion in loans, Minister of Transportation and Communications Lin Chia-lung (林佳龍) said.
The ministry hopes that the funds would soon be approved by the Legislative Yuan so that they could be distributed by the end of this month, he said.
When asked how the government plans to aid travel agencies affected by a ban on hosting inbound and outbound tourists, which ends at the end of next month, Lin compared the pandemic to a health check-up for travel agencies, saying that businesses that have been overly reliant on the Chinese market have suffered from over-investment and harmful competition, while others have become more competitive.
While the government would help travel agencies through the pandemic to keep the unemployment rate down, it would be only natural for these businesses to transition or be phased out if they cannot find prospects for long-term sustainability, he said.
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