Tourism activities subdued in first 10 months

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ACTIVITY in the tourism industry has been subdued in the first 10 months of the year due to the depreciation in the South African rand and changes in the visa regime by Zimbabwe’s southern neighbours, an industry official has said.

BY MTHANDAZO NYONI

Hospitality Association of Zimbabwe (HAZ) Matabeleland North president, John Gwese told NewsDay in an interview that the industry was faced with a number of challenges such as introduction of value-added tax (VAT) on foreign accommodation and tourism-related services.

“As an industry, it was not as good as last year and this is coming against the background of xenophobia in South Africa and outbreak of the Ebola virus in West Africa,” he said.

“South Africa is not stable. The other challenges came on the changes in the visa regime in South Africa. In terms of activities, there has not been any significant growth.”

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Gwese said the other challenge that affected the industry in the first 10 months was weaker currencies such as the Botswana pula, South African rand and Mozambican metical.

“This makes Zimbabwe an expensive destination,” he said.

Gwese said the introduction of VAT on foreign tourists also negatively impacted on the sector.

Early this year, government imposed a 15% tax on foreign tourists’ accommodation to boost its depleting coffers.

Recently, the Zimbabwe Council for Tourism said it was still lobbying government for the removal of VAT, saying it was making Zimbabwe an expensive destination to reach.

According to the Zimbabwe Tourism Authority report, tourist arrivals in the first half of the year grew by 7% to 930 276 driven by the rise in mainland Africa.

In the same period last year, arrivals were at 867 163.