AFTER purchasing a discounted ticket from an airline going to Malaysia, I was quite happy with the airfare rate. I thought it was already a bargain. Imagine my surprise when I was asked to pay a travel tax of P1,620 per passenger in addition to the terminal fee. It was a bargain no more.
Under Presidential Decree (PD) No. 1183, as amended by PD 1205, Batas Pambansa 38, and Executive Order 283, Filipinos and other nationals traveling to other countries from the Philippines are required to pay travel tax before departure, regardless of the place where the air ticket is issued and the form or place of payment.
Airlines normally include the travel tax as a component of the airfare. However, other airlines such as Cebu Pacific excludes the travel tax in the airfare and requires passengers to pay the same in the airport before departure on top of the terminal fee.
As a general rule, Filipino nationals, permanent resident aliens, non-resident aliens who have stayed in the Philippines for more than one (1) year are required to pay travel tax.
However, Overseas Filipino workers, Filipino permanent residents abroad whose stay in the Philippines is less than one year, and infants (2 years and below) are exempted from the payment of travel tax pursuant to Section 2 of PD 1183, as amended.
Overseas Filipino workers, to avail of the exemption, must present a valid passport, an employment certificate, a valid Overseas Employment Certificate (OEC) from the Philippine Overseas Employment Agency if hired through this agency.
The OEC serves as the travel tax exemption certificate, and a certificate of work or employment issued by the Philippine Embassy/Consulate in the place of hire or employment contract authenticated by the Philippine Embassy/Consulate, for those directly hired abroad.
Those exempted from paying the travel tax are foreign diplomatic representatives, employees of the United Nations or its agencies, US military personnel, international carrier crew, Philippine Foreign Service personnel assigned abroad and their dependents, Philippine government officials and employees on official travel (excluding government-owned and controlled corporations), and grantees of foreign government funded trips.
Students with approved scholarships by an appropriate government agency, personnel of Philippine offices of multinational companies not engaged in business in the Philippines and their dependents, and those authorized by the President for reasons of national interest are also exempted from the travel tax.
The travel tax has been there for decades yet its benefits have unfortunately not yet been felt by passengers and ordinary Filipinos alike.
Under Executive Order No. 499, all of proceeds of the travel tax shall be used exclusively for the operations and special projects of the Philippine Tourism Authority.
From my experience as a travel buff in our country, I have not seen significant improvements in how tourist spots are managed.
The only exceptions so far are Corregidor Island and Bohol, where I could say the tourist spots make Filipinos proud.
The tours in Corregidor and Bohol are world class and comparable to any tour that I have experienced abroad.
My most unpleasant trip was in Puerto Galera where chaos prevailed.
Boats docked all over the beach endangering swimmers while the locals took advantage of tourists (including Filipinos like me) by charging excessive and unreasonable fees for a ride to and from the beach.
How the travel tax was used to develop destinatinos like Puerto Galera escapes me. It is my hope that in my future trips around the country, things will change for the better.
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The author works in the Nonato & Nonato Law Offices at Mandaue City, Cebu. He is from Cebu and is a graduate of Ateneo Law School (Juris Doctor in Laws, Second Honors), and UP Cebu (Bachelor of Business Management, Cum Laude). He completed his Masters of Law Degree in the University of California Hastings School of Law with specialization in International Business and Trade (Cum Laude). You may contact the author at firstname.lastname@example.org.