To encourage more investments in the country, the Department of Tourism (DOT) recently strengthened its special economic zone agreement with the Philippine Economic Zone Authority (PEZA).
Tourism Secretary Ace Durano signed a supplemental memorandum of agreement (MOA) with PEZA Director General Lilia de Lima last January 30 on the grant of special economic zone status to tourism estates.
"The signing of this supplemental MOA signals the country's strong investor confidence despite the global crunch. In fact, we expect a boost in investment as we offer lower costs in workforce, construction and tourism infrastructure development," Durano said in a statement.
On the same day, Korean-led Philippine BXT Corp.'s Imperial Palace Water Resort and Spa in Mactan Island, Cebu was granted the special economic zone status, the first tourism ecozone to be operational in the country under Presidential Proclamation No. 1681.
Durano said the DOT and PEZA have decided to expound on some sections of the previous MOA, stressing the need to provide a detailed list of capital equipment with their corresponding criteria for eligibility to duty-free incentives.
The supplemental MOA categorized the list of capital equipment into general building materials, main communication system, pollution control equipment, solid waste disposal system, firefighting and prevention system, centralized security system and specialized maintenance equipment, among others. Tax and duty-free importation of tourist transport equipment will undergo approval from PEZA upon submission of clearances and permits from respective government agencies.
It also identified the list of registrable tourism-related instruments in a Tourism Economic Zone such as hotels, resorts, theme parks, museums, art galleries, health and wellness facilities, sports and recreational centers, international trade centers, airports, and seaports.
Pursuant to Republic Act No. 7916, as amended by RA 8748, tourism development zones may be granted special economic zone status upon registration with PEZA, the issuance of the required Presidential Proclamation, and the endorsement by the DOT.
DOT Undersecretary for Tourism Planning and Promotions Eduardo Jarque Jr. said the department is gearing up for the influx of tourist arrivals by aggressively promoting investments to foreign stakeholders.
"Tourist arrivals are expected to rise with people preferring inexpensive destinations," Jarque said.
For her part, Tourism Director for Tourism Standards Victoria Jasmin said that the DOT has been closely working with the government in tapping alternative sectors such as the baby-boomers in Singapore, Japan, and Korea, who are looking for second homes in countries with lower living costs.