Mexico’s federal government offered a loan program freeing up 11.4 billion pesos aimed at rescuing hotels struggling to stay in business during coronavirus contingencies.

Loans will be granted to hotels, as well as the travel agencies and land transportation companies that support them, at a maximum rate of 13.5% interest.

“These credits, focused mainly on hotels with a micro, small and medium structure, and will have a grace period in interest and capital of six months and a repayment period of up to five years,” said Humberto Hernández-Haddad, the undersecretary of tourism. Tourism companies have until Dec. 31 to apply for between 200,000 and 30 million pesos.

“We hope that the figure, which had started at 9.2 million pesos and has now had a greater margin of operation and uptake, may be a figure on the rise,” said Hernández-Haddad.

The financing initiative was created by the public development entities Banco Nacional de Comercio Exterior (Bancomext) and Nacional Financiera, and will be channeled through commercial banking from the Association of Banks of Mexico (ABM).

Federal Tourism Secretary Miguel Torruco described the project as “a very important program for the country’s hotel sector, at a time when the small and medium accommodation industry requires liquidity.”

Torruco said that the hotel industry represented 28.7% of the tourism gross domestic product in 2019. The tourism industry, the most affected by the pandemic, according to the secretary, contributed 8.7% of the national GDP.

COVID-19, which arrived in Mexico on Feb. 28, has infected 370,712 and killed 41,908.

The president of the ABM, Luis Niño de Rivera, said in a video conference that “for banking in Mexico, the tourism sector is of the utmost importance.”

“This boost that is being given as of today will help not only lift the sector’s economy, but that of many regions of the country that need it so much,” said the bank leader.

Mexico has 22,560 hotels containing more than 808,000 hotel rooms and representing 4.4 million of the jobs.

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