No travel tax in BIMP-Eaga no impact on Davaoeños – DCCII  

The national government has renewed the policy to impose travel tax-free when visiting to the areas in the Brunei Darussalam-Indonesia-Malaysia-Philippines-East Asean Growth Area (BIMP-Eaga).

In the Memorandum Order No. 23 signed by Executive Secretary Salvador C. Medialdea on May 8, “the travel tax exemption shall be granted for a period of five years from the effectivity of this order” where an exemption certificate would be granted by the Tourism Infrastructure and Enterprise Authority (TIEZA)

Travel tax, at present, costs P300 to P2,700, which should be paid at the TIEZA booth in international airports and seaports. The travel tax exemption was revived as memorandum circular issued by then President Benigno Simeon C. Aquino III already expired in October last year.

But Arturo M. Milan, president of Davao City Chamber of Commerce and Industry Inc. (DCCCII), said in an interview that the move to dispense with the travel travel tax when visiting BIMP-Eaga will not yet benefit Davaoeños.

“As of now, there are no existing flights to BIMP areas so there is no impact to (Davaoeños),” Milan said.

The Mindanao Development Authority said in its website that the sub-region only covers the entire sultanate of Brunei Darussalam, nine provinces in Kalimantan, Sulawesi, the island chain of Maluku, and Papua in Indonesia; the federal states of Sabah and Sarawak, and the federal territory of Labuan in Malaysia; and Mindanao and Palawan in Philippines.

At present, travel tax exemption can be availed the sea ports from Buliluyan, Palawan to Kudat in Malaysia and Zamboanga City to Sandakan in Malaysia. A direct flight was also proposed from Zamboanga to Sandakan.

Milan said the DCCCII welcomed the exemption of paying of travel tax to the BIMP areas as “this will surely encourage tourism and people mobility within the BIMP countries and strengthen our cultural, social and economic relations.”

“We hope that ultimately the travel tax will be abolished so we can encourage everybody the opportunity to travel and learn in the process,” Milan said.

Vicente T. Lao, chair of BIMP-Eaga Business Council (BEBC) and chair of Mindanao Business Council, said the revival of the travel tax exemption policy “will be a boost for tourism in BIMP-Eaga.”

Lao also recommended earlier that the landing rights should be relaxed to spur tourism and trade in the sub-region. “The BEBC should pressure the governments in the sub-region to have special rates on landing rights,” he said.

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