Katty Simbulan started Lakbay Pinoy Travel and Tours in Bulacan as a home-based tour operator service in 2011. Eventually, it grew as an authorized 2Go Travel Agent offering domestic and international flight bookings, educational tours, as well as corporate rest and recreation activities.

Before the pandemic started, the travel agency already had a line-up of booked tours from March to May 2020. These bookings were eventually cancelled and Katty was forced to temporarily cease operations as the community quarantine was imposed. 

“I had to close when the government announced that we are under ECQ, we only had the courage to operate again in the latter part of 2020 when our city was already under MGCQ,” Katty shared.

Because of the income loss, Katty had to let go five of her eight employees. “It was hard but we have no choice at that time. We can only afford to pay salaries of three staff through our personal savings,” Katty explained.

One day Katty got an invite to attend a webinar on Bayanihan CARES from DOT Region 3. 

She applied for the CARES for TRAVEL with the hope that it can cover their operational expenses. The amount they received from the program was able to sustain their operations when they re-opened in 2020. 

Mabilis ang naging proseso ng application namin. Siguro dahil kumpleto at tama ang lahat requirements namin.” Katty said.

Katty remains hopeful that after the pandemic, the tourism industry will get back on its feet and everyone will be able to travel again without the restrictions. 

“Di kami mawawalan ng pag-asa at patuloy na magdadasal na makakabalik din ang sigla ng turismo sa bansa. It may take years but until that time, we will continue to strengthen our online presence so that we can make it through this pandemic,” Katty concluded.