Travel Log: Travel taxes a threat to tourism, says UNWTO | Inquirer Business

Travel Log: Travel taxes a threat to tourism, says UNWTO

/ 04:11 AM November 05, 2012

Luzon is No. 3 on the list of Asia’s top islands, based on Readers’ Choice Awards for 2012 of Conde Nast Traveler magazine. INQUIRER PHOTO

MANILA, Philippines—Despite the global financial and economic crisis, people continue to travel, unfettered.  The UN World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) expects international tourist arrivals to increase by 3 to 4 percent in 2012, reaching the historic mark of one billion by December. Its forecast is based on the 5 percent growth registered between January and April.

Rolf Freitag, CEO of the consultancy IPK International, told the 20th World Travel Monitor Forum held in Pisa, Italy, on October 30-31 that “never before have so many people traveled and never before have they had so much money at their disposal as … in 2012.” Dr. Martin Buck, director of the Competence Center Travel and Logistics, Messe Berlin says, “It is both surprising and encouraging to see that people around the world regard traveling as part of their lifestyle, something they would not wish to be without even in times of crisis.


Freitag said the continuing upward trend in the global travel industry results mainly from an economic boom in the so-called BRIC countries (Brazil, Russia, India, China) and other developing countries. “Significant income growth in countries such as Russia and India and the emergence of a new middle class in almost every BRIC country has sparked a desire to travel which prevails in times of crisis,” he said.


Countries whose economies are propped up by tourism money such as Thailand and Malaysia have in the past recent years been trying to attract the “new” tourists, coming from China, Russia and India.

A study by IPK International states that this year some170 million more trips will be undertaken globally than in 2011, adding that travel abroad will rise by four per cent to 1.03 billion trips.


The UNWTO, whose mandate is to ensure sustainable development of the tourism sector, is batting for the easing of travel restrictions. Danson Mwazo, chairman of the UNWTO executive council and who is also the minister for tourism of Kenya, addressed the 94th session of the UNWTO in Campeche, Mexico, in late October, calling on all countries not to impose “illegal taxes on the industry such as the Air Passenger Duty” and to review the “lengthy visa procedures which all hinder travel.”

“I rally all member countries to work towards the E-visa regime which I mentioned in my communication during the 93rd session. I believe this will dramatically increase the number of travelers and consequently have a highly positive impact on the world economy,” Mwazo said.



The UNWTO & World Travel Market Ministers’ Summit in London on Tuesday, November 6, will further tackle the issue of “open borders and open skies: breaking barriers to travel.” The UNWTO considers the trend of introducing new and/or increasing existing taxation on air travel and accommodation as a serious threat to tourism, which it says, is “faced already with significant levels of global taxation.”

Included on the agenda of the summit, which will be attended by tourism ministers, including the Philippines’ Tourism Secretary Ramon Jimenez, are “reducing visa constraints, simplifying entry processes and developing policies that improve connectivity across borders.”

“While important steps have been taken over the past few years to facilitate travel, millions of people continue to face unnecessary barriers to travel such as overly complicated and expensive visa processes,” says UNWTO Secretary-General Taleb Rifai.

“These obstacles are not just barriers to travel; they are barriers to economic growth at a time when we need it most.…The Ministers’ Summit is our chance to push ahead with the necessary travel facilitation measures that will allow tourism to continue generating jobs and prosperity worldwide,” he adds.


Top travel magazine Conde Nast Traveler’s 2012 Readers’ Choice Awards include three Philippine islands ( as winners, with Luzon (represented by Taal Volcano) landing on 3rd place. No. 7 was Cebu and No. 10 was Mindanao. The top Asian island was Bali, followed by Phuket, Langkawi (in Malaysia), Hokkaido (in Japan), Borneo and Lombok (Indonesia).


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The stench of garbage and urine assaults the senses as one walks on the sidewalk outside the perimeter fence of the National Shrine of Our Mother of Perpetual Help on Redemptories Road in Parañaque City at night. The same is true in the parking area in Baclaran, along the Roxas Boulevard going to the shrine.

TAGS: Tourism, Travel, travel log, UNWTO, visas

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