BY MTHANDAZO NYONI
ZIMBABWE’S tour operators have alleged unfair business practices by their Botswana counterparts, whereby they bring their clients straight to the country instead of letting them do that on their behalf.
Travel and tour operators told NewsDay Business that the practice by their Botswana counterparts was unfair as it meant that almost everything was paid for in the country of origin, translating into unimaginable revenue leakages and little revenue coming to Zimbabwe.
“At the moment, as Beneath Africa Travel Tours, yes we are doing well in terms of the business, but it could be better. What I mean by it could be better; you discover that now we need somebody, we need an organisation that can protect our interests,” Beneath Africa Travel and Tours managing director Ranjis Nyakusengwa said.
“For example, we are 70km away from Botswana, whenever we take our clients to Botswana; we have to work hand-in-hand with the local company in that country. But the Botswana people when they want to bring their businesses to Zimbabwe, they bring their businesses straight to Zimbabwe,” he said.
“So we are having a challenge whereby our clients are being taken care of in Botswana. Why the clients prefer Botswana than us in Zimbabwe? We are a registered company, we have got permits to pay, we have got employees to pay, now the guys in Botswana will just buy a car and then off they start the work and bring the clients. You will find that they are paying less to the Botswana people than to Zimbabwean registered tour operators.”
Nyakusengwa said some of the tour operators in Botswana were not registered and were not guides. “They are transporters like taxis, so if you jump into the taxi, you go to point A and point B, you pay $5, he will take you there. No information, no anything. I have got a feeling that our business has been taken away by Botswana tour operators. In Botswana their laws are not as much as on our side to register. If you have got a vehicle that can run, do it. That’s our challenge,” he said.
DK Tours and Safaris consultant Webster Musaidzi weighed in saying they were also having challenges with Zimbabwe’s methods of payment.
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“We are having a challenge with the mode of payments. The payments part of it, for us it’s a big problem where you can’t get your money from the bank. The client deposits money into the company account where the authorities take about a percentage, 20% of that it’s exchanged at the prevailing rate at the bank which is not as favourable,” he said.
“You also have to bear in mind that some of us are, in most cases, get a 20% commission and the rest to the operator. Now when the government comes in and takes 20% that I’m supposed to get from the operator and converts it into local currency, which means I don’t have money. Those are the sort of the challenges.”
Efforts to get a comment from Botswana tour operators were fruitless.