BOHOL, July 5 (PIA) –The Central Visayas Regional Development Council (RDC-7) endorsed the establishment of the Loon Tourism Enterprise Zone (LTEZ), a crucial pile that supports the framework of the socio-economic recovery for Bohol and most especially to earthquake devastated Loon.

The RDC support and project endorsement is a crucial step in LTEZ registration at the Tourism Infrastructure and Enterprise Zones Authority (TIEZA), said Congressman Rene Relampagos, at the sidelines of the RDC Full Council Meeting in Bohol last week.

Relampagos, the House Tourism Chair said that Republic Act No. 9593 (Tourism Act of 2009) supports the establishment of Tourism Enterprise Zones (TEZs) which will contribute to the accelerated creation of employment opportunities by encouraging and supporting investments in the development and operation of these zones.

The TIEZA (formerly Philippine Tourism Authority), is a Department of Tourism attached agency mandated to designate, regulate and supervise the TEZs, as well as develop, manage and supervise tourism infrastructure projects in the country.

It shall supervise and regulate the cultural, economic and environmentally sustainable development of TEZs toward the primary objective of encouraging investments.

These TEZs will be the centers of tourism development in the country and are created with the objective of providing the necessary vehicle to coordinate actions of the public and private sectors to address development barriers, attract and focus investment on specific geographical areas and upgrade product and service quality.

An LTEZ registration at the TIEZA allows its operators and tourism enterprises operators some fiscal incentives, six years Income Tax Holidays (ITH) for new enterprise in tourism zones and even more if they undertake substantial expansion or upgrades within the first six years of operations.

Tax-free and duty-free importation TEZ operators and registered tourism enterprises are also entitled to an exemption of 100% of all taxes and duties on the importation of capital investment and equipment, transportation equipment and spare parts, consumption goods, and services, subject to certain conditions.

Moreover, tourism enterprises within the TEZ are entitled to tax credits equivalent to all national internal revenue taxes paid on all locally-sourced goods and services directly or indirectly used by the registered enterprise for services actually rendered within the TEZ.

A TIEZA registration also offers social responsibility incentives to TEZ operators and registered tourism enterprises: a 50% equivalent of the cost of environmental protection or cultural heritage, preservation activities, sustainable livelihood programs for local communities, and other similar activities as approved by the TIEZA Board.

Earlier, Loon local government identified the LTEZ establishment under its post-earthquake recovery program.

The town council also based the proposal to the framework and action recommendations of the DOT-Japan International Cooperation Agency Central Philippines Sustainable Tourism Master Plan which has included the establishment of international cruise tourism activities and improvement of other tourist destinations, which anchors on the establishment of a cruise ship port in Catagbacan.

The plan also dovetails with Bohol’s Tourism Corridor Competitive strategies which puts Loon in the map as a major cruise ship destination for regional and international tourists.

The LTEZ is also strategically located that it is in close proximity to white beaches, teeming marine life, sports, eco-tourism and world class dive sites, Loon LGU said.

The LTEZ will be established in Loon and will cover the vicinity of Catagbacan Port including its mangrove areas for conservation, foreshores and backwaters, the islands of Cabilao and Sandingan and the established Loon Tourism Circuit Zone including the coastal uplifted zones from the boundaries of Maribojoc-Loon to Calape.

Loon officials said it will operate the LTEZ as the town’s revenue generation economic enterprise, after they can complete a decade-long investment program which it is developing with Bohol and private sector experts.

Loon LGU has already prepared its application  for registration even as the town council has endorsed the project to appropriate government agencies.

Bohol LGU has similarly endorsed the LTEZ but a requirement in the registration at TIEZA will allow Loon to dangle offers to enterprise zone investors. (mbcn/rahc/PIA7-Bohol)