By Genalyn Kabiling
For the next five years, travelers from Mindanao and Palawan can visit the Brunei-Indonesia-Malaysia-Philippines East ASEAN Growth Area (BIMP-EAGA) without paying any travel tax.
In Memorandum Order No. 23 signed last May 8, President Duterte has renewed the travel tax exemption policy to certain air and sea travelers to the sub-regional growth area in Southeast Asia.
The travel tax exemption was issued “for reasons of national interest and in order to sustain and accelerate economic development in Mindanao and Palawan.”
“The Travel Tax exemption shall be granted for a period of five years from the effective of this Order,” the memorandum read. “A Travel Tax Exemption Certificate may be secured from the Tourism Infrastructure and Enterprise Zone Authority,” it added.
The same memo also directed the National Economic and Development Authority to conduct an impact study on the renewal of the travel tax exemption and submit an annual report to the Office of the President. Such report will serve as basis whether the exemption shall be continued or revoked.
Last December, the House of Representatives filed a resolution seeking the renewal of the exemption from travel tax payment for all travelers from all international airports and seaports in Mindanao and Palawan to any destination in the BIMP-EAGA.
The BIMP-EAGA, launched in 1994, covers the entire Brunei Darussalam; the provinces in Kalimantan, Sulawesi, Maluku, and Papua in Indonesia; Sabah, Sarawak and Labuan in Malaysia; and Mindanao and Palawan in the Philippines. The subregion initiative aims to enhance the development trade, investments, tourism, among others, and stimulate growth.