THE government has suspended duty for the importation of vehicles by safari operators in a major boost for the tourism sector ahead of the United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) General Assembly set for later this year.
Report by Mernat Mafirakurewa Acting Business Editor
The development is expected to assist safari operators recapitalise their operations.
According to Statutory Instrument (SI) 199 of 2012 gazzetted on December 31, the suspension of duty will be for six months and lapses in June this year.
“With effect from January 1 2013 up to June 30 2013, duty is suspended on specified motor vehicles of the tariff codes,” reads part of the SI.
“Any specified motor vehicle to be imported under a suspension of duty provided for in these regulations shall be entered for consumption at the port of entry nearest to the premises of the safari operator or at such other port the commissioner may approve.”
According to the SI, the suspension of duty was for vehicles exclusively meant for tourism business and safari operators should be registered with the Zimbabwe Tourism Authority and Safari Association of Zimbabwe for a period of not less than two years.
Vehicles eligible for suspension of duty include those with gross vehicle mass exceeding five tonnes, but not exceeding 20 tonnes being the Isuzu 3,5 model, a payload exceeding 1 400kgs, but not exceeding 5 000kgs but does not include locally assembled models. In his 2013 National Budget statement, Finance minister Tendai Biti said the successful hosting of the 20th Session of the UNWTO General Assembly would facilitate showcasing the potential of our tourism products, facilities and infrastructure, spurring prospects for further growth.
He, however, said taking advantage would also be dependent on the country’s capacity to overcome other challenges that include negative perceptions in some of the major source markets, re-investments in uplifting some of the “tired” tourism facilities and infrastructure.
In 2013, the sector is expected to grow by about 4%, underpinned by the hotels and restaurants sector.