The Ideal Post-Pandemic Tourist Refund System
This ultimate experience can already be realized by mobile-based solutions offered by start-up companies such as Tourego, whose users are verified for eligibility by a contactless scan of their QR Code ID to obtain electronic refund tickets in-app, approved for refund by Customs officials remotely, with the monies credited into their mobile wallets online. These solutions can also incorporate contact tracing capabilities.
- No need to hand over your passport to, or remove your face mask before, the cashier or Customs official for verification.
- No need to receive in return paper refund tickets and cash handled by so many others before you.
- No need to stand in proximity to strangers for hours just to get this done.
The pandemic presents an unprecedented challenge but also an unprecedented opportunity to reshape the tourist tax refund industry in the wake of the new normal in the post-pandemic world. While the Tourego experience remains an ideal to most destinations mired in legacy tourist refund infrastructure and caught up with other priorities as the pandemic runs its course, Smart Nations such as Singapore are particularly well-positioned to deliver this revolutionary experience in the “last mile” in the destination of every tourist journey, which will require an unprecedented level of inter-agency cooperation across immigration, taxation, and tourism authorities.
It will be no mean feat, but it is incumbent on destinations to ensure tourists to get their tax refunds safely in the post-pandemic world and leave a positive impression on visitors to bring home, in a true end-to-end model.