From the Department of Tourism
The Conference on Enhancing Tourism Competitiveness in the APEC Region Through Alignment of Tourism and Taxation Policies is the implementation of the first of the three Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation – Tourism Working Group (APEC-TWG) projects in its annual work programme.
The conference was held on 19 May 2015 at the Paradise Garden Resort, Boracay Island, Aklan, and attended by senior tourism and finance officials from the APEC region, officials and members of the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC), international tourism associations, select local government executives, and local tourism industry leaders.
“We welcome the Philippine leadership in this initiative as well as the engagement of other economies such as Chile, Indonesia, Korea, and Peru,” Tourism Lead Shepherd Javier Guillermo Molina said.
More specifically, the conference served to assess the impact of current taxation measures as well as their changes over time in relation to travel and tourism demand, revenues, and job growth. It likewise provided a comparative analysis of taxation levels in the tourism industry versus taxes in other key sectors towards ensuring a fair and equitable treatment of taxation across industries in the region. It also gave impetus for development policies and programs, which can be pursued by the TWG or senior finance officials to support the growth and development of tourism in the APEC region.
Seasoned speakers shared their expertise on four main sessions that focused on: 1) the economic impact of taxation on travel and tourism growth, 2) maximizing visitor expenditure through better taxation, 3) business efficiency and growth, and, 4) stimulating tourism promotion and investments. Professor Maria Cherry Lyn Rodolfo of the University of Asia and the Pacific and Reid Foundation acted as moderator.
Session one speakers included Mr. Alain Dupeyras, Head of the Tourism Unit, Centre for Entrepreneurship, SMEs and Local Development of the Overseas Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD); Mr. Paul Kent, Director for Economics and Regulation, KPMG and Ms. Helen Marano, Vice-President, World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC). The second session experts were Mr. John Veng Kuy Chong, Senior Adviser for International Economic Affairs Division, Economic Services, Macao SAR and Mr. Shogo Yago, Chief Official, Tourism Strategy Division, Japan Tourism Agency.
The third session gathered Mr. Vinoop Goel, Regional Head, Airport, Passenger, Cargo & Security for Asia Pacific, IATA and Ms. Aileen Clemente, President of Rajah Travel Corporation. The fourth and last session welcomed Dr. Kangwook Lee, Head of International Tourism Research Center, Culture and Tourism Institute; Mr. Edwin Darma Setiawan, Director Promotion Development Corporation; Indonesia and Ms. Jennifer Aquinaga, National Travel and Tourism Office, Department of Commerce, USA.
Philippine Department of Tourism (DOT) Assistant Secretary Rolando Canizal, who closed the conference, reiterated the broad statement made by the panelists on the “whole of government approach” to ensure the continued growth and competitiveness of tourism in APEC. Moving forward, Mr. Canizal said that the APEC senior tourism and finance officials need to forge greater and stronger collaboration to eliminate, if not minimize, the impact of taxation on tourism businesses and tourists.
The tourism industry fully recognizes the important role of taxation to nation building. However, a fair, equitable, transparent, and simple tax policy stimulates more economic activities that redound to increased employment and gross domestic product (GDP). In addition, fees and levies collected from tourism need to be allocated to support infrastructure, product development, and marketing for the sector.
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