New Tieza COO eyes PPPs in managing tourism assets, TEZs

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The Tourism Infrastructure and Enterprise Zone Authority (Tieza) is looking to partner with local government units (LGUs) and private firms to manage its assets and tourism enterprise zones (TEZs).

In an interview with the BusinessMirror, newly elected Tieza Chief Operating Officer Pocholo Joselito De Dios Paragas said: “We will also explore better management of our assets and tourist facilities to maximize and revitalize their earning potentials through public-private partnerships [PPPs]. We will ensure proper coordination with the LGUs as our invaluable partners in the management of the tourism areas.”

Tieza currently owns and operates tourism assets, many of which were inherited from its predecessor, the Philippine Tourism Authority. These include the Banaue Hotel and Youth Hostel, Balicasag Island Dive Resort in Bohol, Club Intramuros Golf Course, Gardens of Malasag Ecotourism Village in Cagayan de Oro, the Rizal and Bagumbayan Light and Sound Museum in Intramuros, Zamboanga Golf Course and Beach Park and the recently built Iloilo Convention Center. It also owns 23 properties nationwide that are not operating, 11 pro-
perties turned over to project proponents and six leased properties.

“We aim to attract tourism-related investments, such as in tourism estates and ecozones, historical-cultural heritage projects, as well as ecotourism, agritourism, and health and wellness projects in the country. The Revenue Regulations are already in place to implement the highly competitive fiscal incentives available to tourism enterprises duly registered with Tieza,” Paragas said.

The Bureau of Internal Revenue’s (BIR) Revenue Regulations 7-2016, which extended fiscal incentives to TEZ locators, took effect on  December 6. Tieza management earlier estimated about P7 billion in investments into the economy in 2017 with the grant of fiscal incentives to TEZs. (See “Tax perks to yield P70-B tourism investments–Tieza”, in the BusinessMirror, January 15, 2017.)

Tieza, an attached agency of the Department of Tourism, has already designated five flagship TEZs. These are San Vicente in Palawan, Rizal Park in Manila, Bucas Grande in Surigao del Sur, Mount Samat Shrine in Bataan and South Palms in Panglao, Bohol. It also approved six ordinary, private-sector-led TEZs: Ciudad de Victoria in Bulacan, Bravo Golf Resort in Dumaguete, Hijo Plantation in Davao, Queen’s Castle in Cebu, Resorts World in Parañaque and King Dome in Davao.

Paragas said he envisioned Tieza as a self-sustaining company through the establishment of tourism enterprise zones, instead of our reliance on the collection of travel tax, which we share with the Commission on Higher Education (40 percent) and the National Committee for Culture and the Arts (10 percent). Under Republic Act 9353, otherwise known as the Tourism Act of 2009, 50 percent of the travel tax collections accrue to Tieza.

He also stressed that on the management side, Tieza “shall be run as a private corporation, but directly aligned with the National Tourism Development Plan, and with key performance indicators to show how effectively the company is achieving the business objectives”.

A business development manager, Paragas was appointed by President  Duterte to the Tieza Board on March 14. He was then- elected COO by members of the Tieza Board in a meeting on April 10. He is the son-in-law of Angelito Banayo, a campaign strategist of Duterte in the last presidential election who is currently managing director and resident representative of the Manila Economic and Cultural Office, the de facto Philippine embassy in Taiwan.

Paragas takes over as Tieza COO from lawyer Guiller Asido, now administrator of the Intramuros Administration.  Paragas is a graduate of landscape architecture from the University of the Philippines in Diliman, with units in the Masters of business administration program of the Ateneo de Manila University. Prior to his appointment to the Tieza Board, Paragas was managing partner of Khione Inc., an ice manufacturing company; president andCEO of Yellow Brick Food Services Inc., the sole food concessionaire of the SM-Belle Group’s Tagaytay Highlands Golf and Country Club; and president and CEO of Prime Sentinel Development and Construction Inc., designer and construction firm of townhouses in Cebu.

The new Tieza COO has also had stints in banking and finance, having served in various capacities at Philippine Savings Bank, Banco de Oro, Citibank and the American Insurance Group.

 

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