Scrapping travel tax welcomed

CEBU tourism stakeholders support the Department of Tourism’s (DOT) plan to look into the possibility of removing or reducing the travel tax rate of passengers departing the country.

They said scrapping or even lowering the travel tax would make travel to the Philippines more attractive, affordable and convenient, especially among foreign guests.

Tourism consultant Consul General Robert Lim Joseph, in text message yesterday, disclosed that there is a move for Congress to take travel tax out.

If scrapped, Joseph, the chairman emeritus of Network of Independent Travel and Allied Services (Nitas), said outbound tourism will increase and boost the country’s image, being one of those countries in the world which have taken out impediments for travel and tourism.

“This is really good for us, as traveling nowadays is no longer a privilege but a right. Removing the travel tax can help ease the burden of travel expenses,” said Cebu Association of Tour Operators Edilberto Mendoza Jr.

“I definitely like the plans of the new DOT so far because it’s revising little but very critical things that will make us more competitive,” said tourism advocate and entrepreneur Jonathan Jay Aldeguer. He said the country needs to reposition its image being one of the most expensive destinations to travel in the region.

Airline passengers departing from the Philippines are levied a travel tax of P1,620 for economy class passage and P2,700 for first class passage. Those exempted from paying travel tax are overseas Filipino workers, Filipinos with permanent residency abroad staying in the Philippines for less than a year and infants less than two years old.

Tourism Undersecretary for Advocacy and Public Affairs Katherine De Castro said in a report that the DOT is reviewing the country’s travel tax system.

“It still needs a lot of review. Not right now, definitely, you know it’s an ambitious part from the end of the DOT,” said De Castro in a report. “Traveling in the Philippines is not cheap. If we can’t remove it (travel tax) totally, we want to at least lower it,” she added.

“Traveling abroad is a form of experiential education, which is essential to our own growth and development,” said Melanie Ng, president of Cebu Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

Mandaue Chamber of Commerce and Industry president Glenn Anthony Soco, for his part, said the plan to eliminate the travel tax will mainly benefit tourists and businessmen. He said this initiative is consistent with the present administration’s policy of rationalizing taxes.

Cebu travel bloggers also welcomed the move of the DOT to reexamine the travel tax structure.

Sinjin Pineda of Libotero.com said it is a “very laudable move.” “I support a reduced travel tax that would go directly to the improvement and maintenance of tourism-related infrastructure and skills-development of our tourism frontliners,” he said.

“Traveling is an opportunity to learn more about a specific destination than just reading. Making travel more affordable is beneficial to people who are eager to explore,” said blogger Doyzkie Buenviaje of iluvcebu.com.

Aside from reviewing the tax structure, de Castro reportedly said the DOT and its attached agency, Tieza, are also working on how the travel tax can be incorporated in airline tickets.
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