The plenaries of Senate and House of Representatives last debate approved Bill No. 281 Senate and No. 403 Chamber of 2020, “by which the General Tourism Law and other provisions are issued ”, presented for legislative processing by the Ministry of Commerce, Industry and Tourism and backed by the majority of Congress.
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José Manuel Restrepo, Minister of Commerce, Industry and Tourism, assured that “this definitive step gives an account of the urgency with which this project was addressed and shows that the legislature and the executive are joining forces to move the tourism industry forward, much more so with what happened in recent days in San Andrés, Providencia and Santa Catalina and in the rest of the country because of the winter wave. The tools given in this project, for the short, medium and long terms, will be decisive, not only for us to resume and overcome the great path with which the tourism in 2019, but to strengthen it in aspects of sustainability and responsibility, to offer world-class tourism ”.
New support tools were included in the approved text for San Andrés, Providencia and Santa Catalina, among them the destination of the 15 dollars that are paid from the national tourism tax; 0.5 dollars to invest in the competitiveness, promotion and infrastructure of the department of San Andrés, and another 0.5 dollars directly for the reconstruction of Providencia and Santa Catalina, during the 2021 term.
Among the transitory tax measures that were included is the VAT reduction on air tickets, which will go from 19 percent to 5 percent until December 31, 2022; temporary suspension of the payment of the energy surcharge for tourism service providers in the hotel, accommodation, events and parks subsectors; the temporary reduction of the consumption tax to 0 percent and the VAT exemption for hotel and tourism services until December 31, 2021. The payment of the penalty for the reactivation of the National Tourism Registry (RNT) is also eliminated until March 2021.
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In addition to the above, investment attraction tools were approved in the sector by expanding the special rate of 9 percent of income tax for the construction of new hotels, new theme parks and their remodeling, in the same way the Construction time was extended from 4 to 6 years. In addition, this benefit included the services provided in new assistance centers for the elderly tourist.
On the subject of platforms, the approved bill balances the field with clear rules of the game for all, where there are no legal loopholes that privilege some providers over others. Like the other providers of tourist services, the platforms must have the National Tourism Registry (RNT) and those who advertise their services through them must also have this requirement, that is, have the RNT. This registration is free and online.
On other issues, through the modification to the Tourism Law Barriers of all kinds are eliminated for the enjoyment of tourist activities by establishing the principle of Universal Accessibility; The Ministry of Commerce is linked to the World Initiative for Tourism and Plastics, and mitigation and adaptation measures are adopted to climate change aimed at minimizing the carbon footprint.
Likewise, issues such as discounts on income for investments made in control, conservation and improvement of the environment and special measures to counteract maritime erosion in municipalities that have a coastal or beach zone are contemplated; the safety of tourists through the existence of rescue personnel or lifeguards on tourist beaches and the expansion of training opportunities as tourist guides to the communities and inhabitants of the different territories of the country, through the recognition of their knowledge .
The Vice Minister of Tourism, Julián Guerrero Orozco, thanked the senators and representatives for the speed with which the project was discussed, which he described as “crucial to move forward with our tourism sector that today needs, more than ever, our support and joint work. Hand in hand not only with Congress, but also from the unions and different actors in the sector, we achieved a deep, broad and participatory discussion that will be reflected in the final article, where in the short term tools are given to mitigate the effects of the situation, and in the medium term and in the long term there are more elements for formalization with a view to greater quality and competitiveness “.
Once this step has been passed, the bill will go to conciliation; once this process is completed, there will be a presidential sanction.
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