Unscrupulous travel agents in the Philippines....beware....
This is my first post here in the travel blog forum and I just wanted to share my experience with a Philippine travel agent, Pan Asia World Holidays, and the charging of the Marcos-era Travel Tax. Any foreign-national who stays in the Philippines for less than a year is exempted from paying the Travel Tax when they leave the country. In my case, I live in New Jersey and booked a vacation package originating from Manila to Bangkok and back. This was a sidetrip that I wanted to do prior to coming back here in the US. I booked this with Pan Asia World Holidays two weeks before my arrival in Manila. To my surprise, they insisted on collecting the travel tax knowing full well that I was out of the country and won't be in the Philippines until about a week before the trip to Bangkok. Even though it was such a minimal amount, the mere fact that I am being forced to pay this unnecessary tax was appalling to me. Their reasoning is that they have to really see the Philippine arrival stamp on my passport to prove that I am not in the Philippines for over a year. On the day of my trip to Bangkok, the Philippine Airlines check-in personnel as well as the Travel Tax counter wondered why I paid the travel tax unnecessarily. And they did tell me that I shouldn't have been covered in the first place and that the travel agent did the wrong thing and that they should still be able to refund me the tax because remittance doesn't occur immediately.
So, when I emailed this travel agent back, Val Pasquil was her name, she was insistent that they did the right thing and that I should just file a refund application with the Travel Tax Authority ! Out of spite for this stupid Marcos-era travel tax, I did file for a refund which I think will take ages to get.
So, to anyone wanting to book their sidetrips in the Philippines, beware of unscrupulous travel agents!
Sorry for the long rant.