AMID efforts to further boost the country’s tourism in order to increase economic activity, President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. has approved the implementation of the Value-Added Tax (VAT) Refund Program for foreign tourists in 2024.
The implementation of the VAT refund program was among the “Quick Wins” recommendations of the Private Sector Advisory Council (PSAC), which was approved by Marcos.
The Malacañang said Marcos will issue an executive order to implement the tax refund program, which is also being carried out in other countries.
Other PSAC recommendations approved by Marcos during a meeting in Malacañang on Thursday, January 26, were the rollout of e-visa by 2023, prioritizing China and India; the removal of One Health Pass (OHP) or requirement of one form only for health, immigration and customs; revocation of outdated advisories and loud-speaker announcements in the country’s airports; and the automatic inclusion of travel tax in all airline tickets.
These programs are aimed at further boosting the country’s tourism industry, including improving airport infrastructure and operations, managing the national brand and image, as well as promoting tourism investments, among others.
The tourism sector is currently recovering from the drought brought about by strict border controls due to the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) pandemic.
It was only in February 2022 that the Philippine government allowed the arrival of tourists in the country since it closed its borders in 2020.
The PSAC said they are also working on a mobile app called e-Travel, which integrates all of the information on immigration, customs, health, and quarantine.
It said the app will allow groups or families for easy data input, adding the database will also include tourist destinations, transport and hotel information, as well as traffic conditions.
During the meeting, Marcos reiterated the importance of digitalization to allow tourists to easily fill out those forms while traveling and enable authorities to ensure security at the borders.
From February to December 2022, the Philippines recorded 2.02 million foreign tourists and 628,445 Filipino overseas arrivals.
This figure is higher than the 2021 tourist arrivals of 163,879 but still significantly lower than the pre-pandemic level of 8.26 million.
For 2023, the Department of Tourism targets to welcome 4.8 million visitors, which could generate P2.58 trillion in revenue. (SunStar Philippines)
January 29, 2023
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