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Tuesday, June 18, 2024

Unlicensed tourism players cause for concern

Story by Tafara Chikumira

THE issue of the tourism levy and unlicenced players was topical during consultations for the Tourism Amendment Bill in Gweru this Tuesday.

The Tourism Amendment Bill which was recently approved by cabinet and tourism players in the Midlands province took time to scrutinise the bill.

The bill seeks to repeal the Tourism Act which is no longer in tandem with current trends in the tourism sector.

“As hoteliers, we are deeply concerned by unlicensed players who have flooded the market. If you look at this conference centre, you will realise that it is actually full, but most of the people in there slept at unlicensed places. We want players to be licensed so that we keep our standards high. It’s difficult to monitor standards compliance to an unlicensed player. This bill must also address the aspect of the sprouting of the air-BnBs so that they contribute to the sector through payment of levies,” said Hospitality Association of Zimbabwe, Midlands Chapter representative, Mrs Sibusiso Musengi.

Safari operator, Mr Osanu Manjengwa said, “As a tourism operator, I am mostly worried about the tourism levy. I feel the 2.5 percent levy in the amendment bill is a bit too steep and as such I propose that it be pegged at 2 percent. That way we will be able to break even and grow our product as we will become competitive on the market.”

Government says much of the concerns raised by tourism players have been addressed by the bill, with legislators now fine-tuning some grey areas through the consultative process.

“We are very happy with how we have managed to come up with this amendment bill which is certainly a game changer in the tourism industry. One of the grey areas that the bill is certainly going to address is the issue of tourism levy. The current bill entails that only ZTA has the power to utilse the levy. We feel this is not fair to other players as the levy by nature is supposed to improve the sector holistically.

In the spirit of accountability, we want this to be shared amongst players according to needs so that the sectors can grow. We want a boom in this sector. Another area is on how we can tap into the new trend of air B n B. The bill addresses how we can also benefit in terms of revenue accrued from such. The bill is certainly going to propel the industry to new heights once it becomes law,” said the Minister of Tourism and Hospitality Industry, Honourable Barbra Rwodzi.

The Tourism Amendment Bill is coming at a time the Second Republic has made significant strides in implementing the National Tourism Recovery and Growth Strategy which is targeting a US$5 billion tourism economy by 2025.

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