MANILA (Reuters) - Philippines President Ferdinand Marcos has approved a value-added tax refund programme for foreign tourists by 2024 to attract more visitors, the Presidential Communications Office (PCO) said on Sunday.
The government collects a 12% VAT on goods consumed within the Southeast Asian country. The plan is to allow foreigners to get a VAT refund on items they are taking out of the Philippines, similar to what many other countries offer.
The measure is among the proposals a private sector advisory council presented to Marcos recently to boost the tourism industry, including improving airport infrastructure and operations and promoting tourism investment, the PCO said in a statement.
Marcos has also approved the launch of an online visa this year for Chinese, Indian, South Korean and Japanese tourists, it said.
The Philippines recorded 2.65 million international visitors last year, who brought in an estimated $3.68 billion in revenue, exceeding its 2022 target of 1.7 million tourists, according to the Department of Tourism.
Last year's total comprised of 2.02 million foreign nationals and 628,445 Filipinos based abroad, which compared with only 163,879 tourists recorded in 2021 and was still significantly lower than the pre-pandemic annual level of 8.26 million.
The government aims to boost visitor arrivals this year to 4.8 million tourists.
(Reporting by Enrico Dela Cruz; Editing by Robert Birsel)