MANILA, Philippines – The Tourism Infrastructure and Enterprise Zone Authority (TIEZA) is pushing for the revision of the allocation scheme of travel tax proceeds to increase the government’s funds for tourism infrastructure projects.
TIEZA chief operating officer Guiller Asido told The STAR the agency was looking at submitting a proposal to amend RA 9593 or Tourism Act of 2009 to ensure that the amount collected from travel tax is properly spent for the development of the tourism industry.
“One major concern we have is the allocation of the travel tax collections. Roughly 50 percent of the travel tax does not really go to tourism purposes,” Asido said in an interview.
Under Section 73 of the law, 50 percent of the proceeds from travel tax collections goes to TIEZA, while 40 percent goes to the Commission on Higher Education (CHED) and the remaining 10 percent is given to the National Commission for Culture and Arts (NCCA).
“In the long term, we are looking at perhaps a legislative proposal to amend the law, so that the 40 percent of the travel tax (that goes to CHED) will revert back to tourism,” Asido said.
He said TIEZA had already discussed its plans with lawmakers in Congress and was hoping to have the law amended within the term of the current administration.
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In the meantime, he said TIEZA had asked CHED to submit a report on how it was spending its share of the travel tax fees.
“We are waiting for CHED’s reply. Any legislative effort will basically affect, as well, the interest of CHED and NCCA so there has to be due respect,” Asido said.
According to Asido, TIEZA’s main source of funds is the proceeds it gets from the collection of travel tax. This means giving another 40 percent of the travel tax to TIEZA, instead of CHED, would give the agency more resources to implement its projects.
Just last year, the TIEZA collected a total of P4.22 billion in travel tax, almost 10 percent higher than the amount collected in 2014.
Half of this amount or a total of P2.11 billion were accrued to TIEZA. The agency used this fund for infrastructure projects; preservation of historical, cultural, religious and heritage sites; development of ecotourism sites; and other administrative expenses.
The TIEZA, an attached agency of the Department of Tourism, is currently conducting a review of the Philippine travel tax system. It has until the end of the month to submit a report indicating the reforms needed to improve the travel tax system.
So far, the review has led to the removal of the P200 processing fee charged for the issuance of certificates of Travel Tax Exemption and Reduced Travel Tax, effective last month.