THE Air Carriers Association of the Philippines, Inc. (ACAP) is asking the government to eliminate or reduce the travel tax to help the tourism sector recover from the China coronavirus outbreak.
ACAP Executive Director and Vice-Chairman Roberto C.O. Lim made the proposal during a House committee hearing on Wednesday on the effects of the coronavirus epidemic, formally known as Covid-19, which originated in the Chinese city of Wuhan.
The official Twitter account of the House of Representatives quoted Mr. Lim as saying: “We are the only country in ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) that imposes travel tax. P1,620 is a hefty fee. Its removal can spur travel demand.”
The House said Representative Rozzano Rufino B. Biazon of Muntinlupa asked ACAP to submit its “studies and recommendations” on the matter.
In a news conference at Malacañang Palace, Manila International Airport Authority (MIAA) General Manager Eddie V. Monreal confirmed Wednesday that the airline industry wrote the agency a letter seeking discounts on or the waiver of certain fees.
“Mayroon silang mga sinulat. Nagsulat sila sa amin at iyan po ay pinag-aaralan natin dahil hindi naman basta-basta puwede nating desisyunan outright. So mayroon kaming mga sulat na natatanggap requesting for those considerations pero wala pang desisyon na pormal kung ano ang magiging aksyon (They wrote my office, and we are studying their proposals, which I cannot rule on outright. There is no formal decision yet.),” Mr. Monreal said.
Tourism Secretary Bernadette Fatima T. Romulo-Puyat has estimated the Tourism industry’s lost business at P42.9 billion between February and April — including P16.8 billion this month, P14.11 billion in March and P11.98 billion in April.
ACAP has said it expects to issue about P3 billion worth of ticket refunds in the next two months after the Philippine travel ban on China, Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan.
The government wants Filipinos to visit domestic destinations in the face of the decline in international tourism due to the outbreak.
President Rodrigo R. Duterte has said he will visit Boracay, Cebu, and Bohol.
The Tourism department estimated that foreign tourist arrivals in 2019 at 8.26 million, exceeding its 8.2 million target.
The government hopes to attract 9.2 million international visitors this year. — Arjay L. Balinbin