The COVID-19 pandemic has tremendously affected many industries, more so for the tourism sector which relies on people traveling and joining tours, attending events, and enjoying the amenities of resorts and hotels. The effect of the pandemic is devastating that economic experts have said that around 30,000 to 50,000 jobs could be lost, especially if tourist arrivals remain low in the coming months.
With this, the Department of Tourism (DOT) has stepped up efforts to help stakeholders recover as the new normal sets in. Its infrastructure and investment arm — Tourism Infrastructure and Enterprise Zone Authority (TIEZA) – is fully supporting recovery efforts by engaging private partners, continuing to develop Tourism Enterprise Zones (TEZs), and by offering fiscal and non-fiscal incentives.
“This is an unprecedented shared challenge in our country and a massive setback for our tourism industry. Thus, we fully support and join the government in all its recovery efforts, especially for the tourism industry, as jobs, livelihoods, and hospitality businesses are at stake,” said TIEZA COO Pocholo D. Paragas.
At the beginning of the crisis, TIEZA has remitted P12 billion to the Bureau of Treasury to support the government’s fight against Covid-19. It has also opened the doors of its various properties for frontline use.
As part of recovery efforts, TIEZA’s Joint Venture Selection Committee is continuing its competitive selection for the development and operation of its assets, such as Balicasag Island Dive Resort and the Club Intramuros Golf Course. TIEZA is also assisting in the development of private TEZs and those tourism enterprises undertaking substantial expansion, renovation, and upgrade in the wake of tourism’s new normal. With investment in these projects, it will not only promote the tourism potentials of these places when travel normalizes again, but also provide employment for locals, boost the economic activities in the community, and transform the place into a sustainable, crisis-proof destination.
“TIEZA is now looking into initiatives through TEZs as a tool for recovery for the tourism sector, such as incentives and streamlining of processes,” added Paragas.
The TIEZA Board recently approved granting tax incentives to tourism enterprises undertaking substantial expansion or upgrade. There will also be tax and duty-free importation incentive for construction materials, PPEs, or disinfecting supplies and equipment. Add to that, TIEZA has also streamlined requirements for TEZ designation and registration of tourism enterprises effective June 1, 2020 so that they can avail of fiscal incentives.
There would also be a lowering of TIEZA fees during the recovery period. In fact, TIEZA had already issued its first permit for 2020 with a P1 fee last June 17.
“This lowering of the fee, approved by the TIEZA Board, had taken effect. The P1 fee is a tangible proof of our commitment to help the tourism industry recover from the reeling effects of the pandemic,” said Paragas.
San Vicente Flagship TEZ Administrator Engr. Bernard Alarilla issued the first TIEZA permit, jointly signed by San Vicente, Palawan Mayor Amy Alvarez, to Marlon Ballesteros of Purok Masigla, Barangay Port Barton, owner of Pisces Tourist Inn, which has four rooms.
The San Vicente Flagship TEZ in Palawan, known for its 14.7-kilometer unbroken stretch of pristine beach, is envisioned to be an environmentally and socially sustainable tourist destination that will be a catalyst for inclusive economic growth through public and private partnerships.
“TIEZA will assist tourism enterprises in its jurisdiction by offering various incentives that will allow them to continue their enterprises,” said Paragas. “We are here to help them along the way, until the whole tourism industry can stand on its feet, and recover and rise once more.”