Philippines – Fee-lippines – tourists and locals complain

Philippines – Fee-lippines is one of the reasons why tourism stalls in this country. There are many more, but all these separate taxes and fees offend and disturb many tourists – and local people.

We did talk to local government and national agencies about this fees and taxes problem. The answer had been astonishing but clear: This is transparency. We do not impose any hidden taxes and fees. Let us read what local people say. This message dropped this morning in our mail box:

Feelippines, it is! To us local it has become the norm we just expect it everywhere. But for tourists, this might be hard to comprehend. We it is hard to comprehend. You’d think at 12% tax and all those fees they’d have something to show for it, but nah. One of the worst is the travel tax. As if the ticket price does not include tax already! And with thr horrible queues esp at Terminal 3, I’ve seen too much frustration and drama in that section of thr airport!

This is a direct quotation, please excuse the typos of the writer who might have been irritated.

Fee-lippines: A problem of non-cooperation

Sample #1:

You want to go to Boracay. The boat ticket costs 50 pesos. That’s absolutely OK. But then you have to pay:

  1. The boat ticket
  2. The terminal fee
  3. The environmental fee

Not only that you finally spend 200 pesos, but you have to queue up at 3 counters. You get 3 paper tickets and nobody at the counter has change. You also will meet at least 12 staff- There is a controller for each cashier (already 6 employees). There are also 3 people checking for all your 3 tickets. And as nobody trusts nobody here, every ticket checking employee has a controller In the shadow. And yes, at the boat, they want to see your ticket again.

People with pink glasses say that this procedures generates employment. True! But it doesn’t generate real income and it makes tourists unhappy. Read more about taxes and fees …

Sample #2:

You decide to go to Mantigue island, the paradise island off the shores of Camiguin. The fare is 600 pesos for a boat of 6 people for 4 hours stay. That’s OK and the boatmen wait for you on the small island to bring you back.

After 20 minutes exciting sailing in pristine waters you arrive in paradise. A nice and sometimes even beautiful girl welcomes you on the island and asks you to pay 20 pesos environmental fee. Did you take cash with you in a waterproof bag? Yes?  Lucky you!
The sun is burning on the white sand. You look for a place in the shadow. “Sorry seer, the table costs  50 pesos only”. Again your waterproof bag with the pesos.
Congratulations, you are there in the shadow and everything is paid. But do not go snorkelling or even diving. The same nice girl runs after you to collect the 50 pesos sanctuary fee. You still smile, but you do not have a peso left in your swimming gear.

Good news: There is not yet a breathing fee – next year maybe.

Sample #x:

I could now annoy you with some 10,000 more samples of taxes and fees. I do not.
The problem isn’t the taxes and fees. The problem is the non-cooperation. Every microscopic entity charges you with a humble charge and establishes a handwritten official receipt. Sometimes you even get a big bunch of official stamps.  And they do it, where you do not expect it. Locals are used to it and have always some coins in their pockets. Locals also add at least one hour to their schedule, so they do not miss the boat, the ferry or any other means of transportation because of the taxes and fees booths.

But money bringing tourists?

Tourists coming from any country are used to pay once for a trip or a service. FULL STOP.
I’ve seen many tourists having bought their boat ticket and getting frustrated because they were refused to get on board because this fee and that tax had not yet been paid. Recently I observed a couple coming from UK to spend their vacation in our paradise. Arriving  on the shores of Mantigue island their white skin got more pale, when they had to pay the 20 pesos environmental fee and then the 50 pesos table charge and then the 50 pesos sanctuary fee for snorkeling. They really got upset and had the feeling to be fooled. I got them back on the track and then in the warm water. They finally were very happy. After having seen sea-turtles, clown fish and all the beauties under water, their smiles came back. And there had been no fee or tax for the ride back on the mainland. 😎

One Offer = One Payment

Why can Filipinos not cooperate? Well, it’s the barangay philosophy. It’s a very small world here. Maybe you want to read “A Heritage of Smallness” a great Filipino writer did think in depth about this phenomena. The barangay (balangay) has been and is a small rowboat that can transport all members of a village, but no more.

It would be so easy to resolve this annoying fees, taxes and add-on problem. Let’s have a look at the Mantigue operation. In the bangka port in San Roque, they already list all the services, taxes and fees. The tourist could choose what he wants and pay the total amount to the cashier. The visitor would then get a token or card of a specific colour that indicates the services he had paid for. The token would be recycled when the tourist comes back from Mantigue.
In the evening the cashier would then pay out the fares to the boatmen, the taxes and fees to the different local government units. It could be so simple and the Fee-lippines would again become the Philippines!

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1 Response

  1. James Hann says:

    Hi there and thank you for the insight.
    As a “resort” operator and for lack of a better term…”stake holder” in Camiguin, I cannot agree more with you. The level of frustration our most valued tourists endure cannot be measured. We and our staff deal with many many tourists everyday and they all say the same thing….”It’s a nice place but you get nickeled and dimed to death!” They feel mistreated and ripped off. On to many occasions we have heard…”the Philippines is nice but we never should have come here. It’s way to expensive for what you get.” !!!
    This is a common theme and in the end you can’t get by it with “kindness and smiles”….If this country and in particular Camiguin what to truly compete in the tourism industry they have to wake up, cuts the fees out all together and start to COMPETE!!!!! Value for money…simple as that!

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