By Zsarlene B. Chua
In hopes of attracting more investment in the tourism sector, the Tourism Infrastructure and Enterprise Zone Authority (TIEZA) has finally put into place the Tourism Enterprise Zone (TEZ) model which an executive described as a “paradigm shift in how we approach development towards tourism industry.”
“This has been an ongoing concern and we were actually trying to implement this since 2009 but the appropriate revenue regulation has only been released last December 2016. So we are introducing this concept in hopes that we can already ensure the development of Philippine tourism through investments,” said Guiller B. Asido, COO of TIEZA during a Feb. 22 press conference at the Club Intramuros in Manila.
A TEZ is a tract of land no less than five hectares with “defined boundaries, master-planned for development into an integrated tourism complex with prescribed carrying capacities, to host tourism, enterprise facilities within,” said a press release.
The model seeks to attract public and private sector investors who are keen to develop a part of a prescribed TEZ by granting them fiscal and non-fiscal incentives such as a six-year income tax holiday which can be further extended for another six years, and import tax exemptions for capital goods and equipment needed for TIEZA-registered activities, among others.
“The current direction of the Department of Tourism (DoT) is not just upon arrivals but also in generating investments through tourism,” Mr. Asido said.
While the revenue regulations were released just a month ago, the Department of Tourism-attached agency has already designated several private TEZs such as Resorts World Manila in Parañaque City which is currently composed of hotels, a casino and other entertainment offerings; Queen’s Castle in Cebu, a resort and golf club; Hijo Plantation, a banana and coconut plantation that also features environmentally conscious accommodations in Tagum, Metro Davao; and the Kingdom Global City, a mixed-used development with a 70,000-person capacity arena set to rise in Davao City, among several others. (Kingdom Global City is owned by President Rodrigo R. Duterte’s friend and supporter Apollo Carreon Quiboloy, founder and leader of the religious group Kingdom of Jesus Christ, The Name Above Every Name, Inc.)
Aside from the private TEZs, the authority also named five flagship TEZs with another set to be chosen after a year or so. Unlike private TEZs where a private sector applicant applies to be recognized as a TEZ, flagship TEZs are sites earmarked for infrastructure development by the DoT and TIEZA.
The five flagship TEZs include San Vicente in Palawan which boasts of a 14 km-long beach and is being developed to include beach and mountain resorts, agri-tourism, a cultural heritage village, a retirement village, and other accommodations; and the Rizal Park Complex with its 54 hectares to be developed into amenity cores, museums/antique shops, interactive/recreational activity centers; a cruise ship dock and an esplanade with a wharf.
Also included in the flagship TEZs is the Mt. Samat Shrine of Valor in Bataan. While it is still currently being planned, the TEZ currently has a colonnade with a museum and the memorial cross with a viewing gallery.
Bucas Grande in Surigao del Norte as well as Panglao Bay Premiere in Bohol are also in the master-planning stage. Both locations are known for their beaches.
To further its TEZ objectives, TIEZA will be holding a series of road shows to attract potential investors.