President Ferdinand R, Marcos Jr. on Thursday directed the Department of Tourism (DOT) to assess non-operating tourism zones under the Tourism Infrastructure and Enterprise Zone Authority (TIEZA) to boost the Philippine tourism industry.
During the meeting with the Private Sector Advisory Council (PSAC) Tourism Sector Group in Malacañang Palace regarding proposals to further improve the country’s tourism sector, Marcos pointed out that TIEZA’s problem lies in its properties that are not in use, as he called for a review on how to better manage these assets.
TIEZA is a government-owned and controlled corporation (GOCC) attached to the DOT and is responsible for the development, promotion and supervision of tourism projects in the country.
“I’m happy that the general direction… that means that we are actually… have already started. There are some very good suggestions,” he said.
PSAC, meanwhile, recommended to amend the allocation of travel tax to grant more funding for TIEZA and expand the list of priority tourism-related investment activities.
Under the Tourism Act of 2009, 50 percent of travel tax goes to TIEZA, while 40 percent is allocated to Higher Education Development Fund to enable the Commission on Higher Education (CHED) to prioritize tourism-related educational programs and courses. The remaining 10 percent goes to the National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA).
The DOT said allocating more funding for TIEZA would require amending the law and may not materialize within a year, as targeted by the PSAC.
Other recommendations made by the PSAC include reviewing and simplifying the privatization or bidding process, leveraging properties to undertake more tourism infrastructure projects, and establishing a long-term Strategic Tourism Infrastructure/Investment Masterplan.
TIEZA, for its part, recommended to transfer its mandate of asset operation to private partners.
According to the Presidential Communications Office (PCO), the Philippines recorded 2.6 million tourist arrivals in 2022, which exceeded the target of 1.7 million.
The PCO noted that the Philippines admitted 1,138,637 international visitors as of March 14, or 24 percent of the 4.8 million target for the year. (PNA)