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PIA Press Release

Visayas sets public consultation on IRR for National Tourism Act

Cebu City (13 October) -- Around 80 stakeholders coming from the tourism industry and related tourism sector in the Visayas Region will converge tomorrow for the public consultation on the implementing rules and regulations (IRR) of RA 9593 or the National Tourism Act of 2009.

Tourism Usec. Phineas Alburo said the second draft of the law's IRR has been concluded and this will be presented to the various tourism stakeholders including the hotel, resorts, restaurants, travel agency and transportation sectors and other representatives from tourism-related services.

Apart from the sentiments regarding the IRR, Alburo said he expects additional inputs from the Visayas group to wrap up the Visayas leg of the public consultation and note any suggestions for amendments or additions.

The new law empowers the Department of Tourism (DOT) to strengthen its attached agencies to effectively implement the national policy for tourism. The three major DOT attached agencies that will be reorganized and strengthened are the Philippine Tourism Authority (PTA), Philippine Convention and Visitors Corporation (PCVC) and the Duty Free Philippines (DFP).

With the new law, the PTA will be reorganized into the Tourism Infrastructure and Enterprise Zone Authority (TIEZA), the PCVC will turn into the Tourism Promotions Board (TPB) and the DFP will be reorganized to become the Duty Free Philippines Corporation (DFPC). All these reorganized agencies will be under the supervision of the DOT Secretary and attached to the department for purposes of program and policy coordination.

The TIEZA is tasked to designate, regulate and supervise the establishments of tourism enterprise zones (TEZ) as well as develop, manage and supervise tourist infrastructure projects nationwide. There will be 10 Board of Directors equally represented by both the government and private sectors.

Any geographic area designated by TIEZA upon recommendation of any local government unit or private entity or through joint ventures between the public and private sectors can become a TEZ.

Lands identified as part of a TEZ shall qualify for exemption from the coverage of the Urban Development and Housing Act and the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Law while TEZ operators and registered tourism enterprises within TEZ may avail of fiscal and non-fiscal incentives, subject to TIEZA Board approval.

Tourism enterprises not located within the TEZ can likewise avail of economic incentives under existing laws.

An authorized capital of P 250M shall be allocated for the TIEZA by the national government. Funding for the TIEZA will be taken from the 50 percent of the proceeds of the travel tax collections, income from the projects managed by the TIEZA, a reasonable share from the collections of the Office of Tourism Resource Generation and subsidies or grants.

The TPB on the other hand, is responsible for the formulation and implementation of an integrated domestic and international promotions and marketing program for the tourism department. There will be 13 Board of Directors with the tourism secretary as the chairperson and the other five representatives coming from the private sector.

Similar to the tourism promotions board in Hongkong, Singapore and Thailand where their respective governments allocate a bigger share of budget allocation to promote and market their country abroad, the TBP will have an initial authorized capital of P250M from the national government. Funding for the Philippine TPB will be taken from the investment earnings from the Tourism Promotions Trust; 70 percent of the 50 percent net income of the DFPC; at least 25 percent of the 50 percent national government share remitted by the Philippine Amusements and Gaming Corp.; at least 25 percent of the national government share remitted by the international airports and seaports to the National Treasury; and lastly, an appropriation from the national government of not less than P500M annually for at least five years from the time of its constitution.

The DFPC will operate duty and tax free merchandising system to augment the service facilities for tourists and to generate foreign revenues for the government. It will have an authorized capitalization of P500M to be allocated by the national government.

Alburo, who is tasked to be responsible for the drafting of the law's IRR said he will meet with the Department of Budget and Management by the end of the month to determine the funding allocation of the three reorganized major agencies.

After the Visayas public consultation in Cebu City, Usec. Alburo said he is set to fly to Davao City for the Mindanao leg of the public consultation the following day.

The public consultation in Luzon was done last Friday as Alburo said he was asked to fast track the finalization of the law's IRR to jump start its implementation before the year ends.

Alburo is optimistic that with the new law capitalizing tourism as a national policy for investments, employment, growth and national development, the Philippine tourism sector will now be more globally competitive.

"I have waited for 36 years before this law is passed. Before, tourism was not given a priority in the budget as we were number three from the bottom. With this law, tourism now is given much importance to become a tool for economic development."

President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo signed the law last May 12 in Cebu which she said is quite appropriate as Cebu is the top tourism destination of choice especially among foreign tourists. (PIA-Cebu/FCR) [top]

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