MANILA, Philippines: In an effort to attract more tourists, President Ferdinand Marcos has approved a value-added tax refund program for foreign tourists beginning in 2024.
A 12 percent VAT is currently imposed on goods consumed within the country, but similar to what many other countries offer, foreigners will be able to receive a tax refund on items they are taking out of the Philippines.
In a statement, the president's office said that the rebate proposal was presented by a private sector advisory council to Marcos to boost the tourism industry, while other suggestions included improving airport infrastructure and operations and promoting tourism investment.
The launch of an online visa this year for Chinese, Indian, South Korean and Japanese tourists was also approved by Marcos, it added.
According to the Department of Tourism, in 2022 the Philippines was visited by 2.65 million international tourists who spent some $3.68 billion, exceeding the government's 2022 target of 1.7 million tourists.
Out of last year's total figure, there were 2.02 million foreign nationals arriving in the Philippines, along with 628,445 Filipinos based abroad, compared to only 163,879 tourists recorded in 2021, but still significantly lower than the pre-pandemic level of 8.26 million per year.
This year, the Philippine government seeks to attract 4.8 million tourists.