Solon proposes $25 tourist travel tax to finance visitors’ welfare services

Published April 8, 2018, 1:09 PM

by Francine Ciasico

By Charissa Luci-Atienza

A House leader is calling for the imposition of a $25 tourist travel tax to help generate funds for the improvement of tourist welfare services in the country.

Camarines Sur Rep. Luis Raymund "LRay" Villafuerte ( / MANILA BULLETIN)
Camarines Sur Rep. Luis Raymund “LRay” Villafuerte ( / MANILA BULLETIN)

Camarines Sur Rep. Luis Raymund Villafuerte sought the collection of $25 from tourists traveling to the Philippines and staying the country for less than two months.

“Currently, our government imposes a travel tax on Filipinos traveling abroad without a similar imposition to foreigners traveling to the Philippines even, while neighboring economies tax foreigners flying into their countries,” he said in filing House Bill 7434 or the proposed Tourist Welfare Tax Act of 2018.

“The fixed rate of $25 is competitive with the current travel taxes that other Asian countries have set. This is mainly based on the average rates of entry and exit taxes imposed by Asian countries, such as Thailand, Indonesia, Brunei, Sri Lanka, Cambodia, Hong Kong and China,” Villafuerte said.

He noted that the collection of entry and exit taxes has been imposed by other countries on visiting foreign nationals in order to boost the funding for tourism.

“This is more commonly collected from travelers flying into a country, where the fee is incorporated into the airline ticket price. In this proposed bill, we follow the same standard of including the Tourist Welfare Travel tax, as it will be called, in the airfare prices, ” he said.

House Bill 7434 provides that the proposed collected fee will be used to improve the tourist welfare services such as existing and ensuing tourist information and assistance desks, tourism police training and developent programs, and special projects for tourists with disabilities (PWD) and special needs.

Under the measure, the funds collected will be allocated to the Tourism Infrastructure and Enterprise Zone Authority (TIEZA) for the improvement of services in tourism infrastructure. The tourism welfare tax will also be allocated to the tourism offices of local government units to encourage the development of local tourism programs.

Villafuerte said a provision for the adjustment of the tax five years after the effectivity of the proposed Act is provided in anticipation of possible inflation.

He said a tax refund option is also available for those erroneously charged and tourists who have spent over $10,000 in tourism receipts.

Last year, the Department of Tourism (DOT) recorded over 6.6 million tourist arrivals in the country, posting an 11 percent growth from the year prior.