THE Zimbabwe Council for Tourism (ZCT) is lobbying the government to review the 15% Value Added Tax (VAT) being charged on foreign tourists,arguing this is making the country an expensive destination.
BY TARISAI MANDIZHA
Finance minister Patrick Chinamasa announced the introduction of a 15% VAT on foreign tourists early this year.
Speaking at a media briefing in Harare recently, ZCT president Francis Ngwenya said the 15% VAT on foreign tourists was making Zimbabwe an uncompetitive destination compared to other regional counterparts.
“We are lobbying for it to be adjusted so that we can remain competitive,” he said.
“Zimbabwe is an expensive destination and the increase is not attractive to the regional market. It has a negative impact on tourism.
“It’s even difficult for us to come up with attractive rates for domestic and regional markets.”
Ngwenya said some products were now 35% more expensive compared to some regional markets.
He said discussions were still ongoing despite criticism that the tourism sector was showing unwillingness to contribute to the fiscus.
“It is the belief of the sector that this is done best through incentivising international arrivals through economically viable rates,” Ngwenya said.
“More tourists means greater income, fewer tourists means lesser income. All economic sectors seek and gain incentives that have a greater impact on the overall economy and it is our firm belief that the imposition of VAT has a result that is far less beneficial to the overall economy than the alternative we are suggesting.”
ZCT chief executive Paul Matamisa said South Africa, Botswana and Zambia had lower tourism tax rates than Zimbabwe.
He said there was need to interrogate the pricing structure in the country after dollarisation.
ZCT welcomed the establishment in Victoria Falls of the Santonga Development saying this was going to create a lot of employment.
“We are not in support of a zoo in Victoria Falls. It’s not the right place and this is not a zoo. From the look of the project, the size the plans, it’s not a zoo, it’s an extra entertainment area that is going to be put in place with animals,” Ngwenya said.
“We welcome the project and we hope it will resume as it is going to create employment.”
He revealed that the Victoria Falls council had ordered a second environmental impact assessment and the results from this would set the pace for the project to resume.
“We welcome plans for this development, but we also welcome debate and discussion about the project,” he said.
“It is the view of ZCT that the development that adds value to the environment is welcome, as long as such development in no way harms the interest of wildlife, the environment or the local population,” Ngwenya said.
“We look forward to Africa Albida Tourism and other stakeholders coming to an agreement on the way forward for the project, so that its implementation will result in a win-win situation for all concerned.”