Tourism sector urged to prepare for boom in tourist arrivals
Louella Desiderio (The Philippine Star) - December 28, 2012 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines - The tourism sector must start preparing for an increase in visitors to the country as seven foreign airlines express interest to fly here once a law removing taxes on international carriers is put in place.

Given developments on the policy front, Philippine Travel Agencies Association (PTAA) president John Paul Cabalza said tourism industries should now get ready for the entry of more foreign visitors to the country.

“We have to find the right balance in terms of supply of hotels, seats, pricing, and airport capacity,” he said.

“More training must also be provided to travel agencies and tour operators.  Our tour guides should also become multi-lingual,” he said further.

The country is moving closer to the removal of taxes foreign carriers have to pay after the Senate approved on third and final reading last March of Senate Bill 3343 which seeks to scrap the 2.5 percent Gross Philippine Billings Tax (GPBT), and the three percent common carriers’ tax (CCT) for airlines with countries of origin that will agree to give a similar tax exemption to Philippine carriers.

House Bill 6022, which seeks to abolish the GPBT and CCT, was passed on third and final reading earlier this year.

Federation of Tourism Industries of the Philippines interim president Aileen Clemente said at least seven foreign airlines have already expressed interest to open flights to the Philippines early next year once the measure for the removal of the GPBT and CCT is enacted.

She said foreign airlines such as Cathay Pacific Airways, Delta Air Lines, Etihad Airways, AirFrance KLM, Kuwait Airways, Lufthansa, Qatar Airways, and Singapore Airlines support the move to scrap the GPBT and CCT.

She said that once the taxes being charged to international carriers are removed, she is hopeful the airlines would even consider adding more flights by mid-2013.

“It will signal to the world that we are getting our act together and that all the components that will boost Philippine tourism are being addressed,” she said.

Cabalza said they have been actively supporting the passage of the measure citing that the fewer seats of flights available to the Philippines has affected the tourism sector.

“We have seen the dwindling number of seats available to the Philippines because of the GPBT and CCT and this is not good for us since the different parts of the country are largely only reachable by air,” he said.

For this year, about 3.5 million tourists are expected to visit the country.

By 2016, the government is aiming to attract 10 million tourists.

Citing data released by the Senate, the PTAA said 15 million seats should be made available to meet the target number of tourists.

Currently, the Philippines has six million seats available with about 369 flights weekly.

Data from the Department of Tourism showed that for the January to October period, tourist arrivals reached a total of 3.478 million, 9.18 percent higher than in the same period last year.

 

AILEEN CLEMENTE CATHAY PACIFIC AIRWAYS DELTA AIR LINES DEPARTMENT OF TOURISM ETIHAD AIRWAYS FEDERATION OF TOURISM INDUSTRIES OF THE PHILIPPINES GROSS PHILIPPINE BILLINGS TAX HOUSE BILL JOHN PAUL CABALZA KUWAIT AIRWAYS MARCH OF SENATE BILL
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