DOT seeks TIEZA nod for Mindanao’s first tourism enterprise zone

GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews/24 March) — The Department of Tourism (DOT) is targeting to get the approval of the Tourism Infrastructure Enterprise Zone Authority (TIEZA) within this year for the development of Mindanao’s first tourism enterprise zone or TEZ.

Arturo Boncato Jr., DOT assistant secretary for Mindanao operations, said TIEZA is currently processing and evaluating a number of applications for the proposed declaration and establishment of TEZs in parts of Mindanao.

Among the pending TEZ applications was for the planned 79-hectare tourism complex in Glan town in Sarangani Province and the Three Ridges Integrated Area Development in Davao City.

TIEZA, which is an attached agency of the DOT, is tasked to designate, regulate and supervise established TEZs as provided for by Republic Act 9593 or the Tourism Act of 2009.

Boncato said TIEZA has so far received proposals or applications from each of Mindanao’s six regions for TEZ development.

Mindanao is composed of Region 9 (Zamboanga Peninsula), Region 10 (Northern Mindanao), Region 11 (Davao Region), Region 12 (Soccsksargen), Region 13 (Caraga) and the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao.

“Hopefully we can include one from Mindanao this year into the TEZ program,” he said at the sidelines of the three-day Region 12 tourism expo at the SM City Mall in Iloilo City that ended on Sunday afternoon.

In the last two years, Boncato said TIEZA has already approved three TEZs — one each in Metro Manila, Bulacan and Cebu.

He said developers and investors in the three declared TEZs are currently enjoying various fiscal and non-fiscal incentives as part of the program.

A program briefer said enterprises within TEZs may be granted fiscal incentives like a six-year income tax holiday; duty-free importation of capital equipment and goods consumed in the course of services rendered; and tax credits on all locally sourced goods and services.

The non-fiscal incentives include employment of foreign nationals in executive, supervisory, technical or advisory positions; special investor resident visas for foreigners who will be hired by locators; and privileges in connection with foreign currency transactions, it said.

“These incentives are far better than those offered by the BOI (Board of Investments) and PEZA (Philippine Economic Zone Authority),” Boncato said.

To be considered for the program, he said a proposed TEZ should have ready investments at a minimum of US$ 5 million for major tourism facilities and other projects.

The official said the project or TEZ site should cover a minimum of five-hectare contiguous area or property.

TEZs are classified based on their particular purpose, specifically for cultural heritage, health and wellness, eco-tourism, general leisure and mixed-used zones.

The proposed TEZ in Sarangani mainly covers the town center of Glan and several neighboring communities.

Nelly Nita Dillera, DOT Region 12 director, said the planned TEZ in Glan will complement with the continuing developments along the area’s popular white sand beaches.

Glan has emerged as a popular tourist destination in the last several years due to the pristine white sand beaches in the coastal village of Gumasa.

The strip, which is touted as the “Boracay of the South,” plays host every third week of May to the two-day Sarangani Bay Festival that has been dubbed “Mindanao’s biggest beach party.”

Aside from its beaches, Glan boasts of a rich history and culture that dates back about a century ago.

The town is celebrating this year its centennial founding anniversary. (MindaNews)