The Zimbabwe Tourism Authority (ZTA) yesterday closed some unregistered operators throughout the country in a bid to restore sanity and make the sector attractive to foreign investors.
BY TINOTENDA MUNYUKWI
The closure follows the expiry on Saturday of a moratorium issued in January to shut down tourist operators that would have failed to register by March 31.
In the capital, the initial figure of unregistered players was 284 and ZTA says 50% of that figure heeded the call and registered and it has begun its crackdown on the remaining 142 with an estimated national target of about 600, which are said to be operating clandestinely.
ZTA chief operating officer, Givemore Chidzidzi yesterday told NewsDay that as Zimbabwe upholds it’s “open for business mantra” it was important to restore order within the tourism sector in a bid to attract foreign investment and contribute significantly to the national fiscus.
“We have intensified the registration drive, because the minister issued the moratorium and some of these players have remained defiant to comply, therefore, we have no option, but to close them down to create an optimum playing field in which people’s operations are known, and they comply with legal and tax requirements,” he said.
Section 36 of the Tourism Act of 1996 requires tourism players to be registered and licensed, and in their business operations, a further 2% of their revenue is remitted to ZTA.
“We are not a revenue-making organisation and the fee we are charging for registration is for administrative purposes, because, as a an organisation, we have operational costs and our main mandate is to administer the sector to make sure it benefits the country,” Chidzidzi said.
The minimum requirement that the players, which are mainly lodges and restaurants are expected to pay is $300 per annum. Those that were shut down yesterday bemoaned the ongoing liquidity crunch for their inability to meet these requirements.
“We are not making much at all, and we have various operational costs to meet under the very stringent economic environment, we all know the situation with cash and the banks, so it’s not that we do not want to comply but we can’t comply,” Muchero Mudzonga the proprietor of Earlside Hotel, said.
Chidzidzi, however, encouraged all unregistered players to approach the authority and negotiate on payment terms, failure to which will lead to closure or possible legal action.