Safari operators through their Arusha-based, Tanzania Association of Tour Operators have lamented on the government's move to slam Value Added Taxation on tourism products.

“It is high time that, the state organs realize that tourism products, including game viewing in National Parks, luxury accommodations in tourists hotels and similar packages should be treated as ‘exports’ that is why we charge foreigners sampling them in dollars,” stated the Executive Secretary for TATO, Mr Mustafa Akonaay.

Mr Akonaay said it was wrong to impose VAT on goods meant for export including tourism services, pointing out that usually tourists do not take anything out of the country; they just come into the country gaze at wildlife and leave, even though the services are being charged as exports.

The TATO Executive warned that VAT on tourism products will make Tanzania a very expensive destination and foreigners may start opting for other countries where prices for Safaris are much cheaper.

Tourism related segments that will be subjected to the Value Added Tax may include Tourist Guided Game Driving, Water and Sea sports, Animal and (or) Bird watching, accommodation, Park Fees, Tourist chatter services and Ground transportation or transit services.

For the more than 500 tour operators in the country, the move will make the Tanzania Tourism Industry to be hard hit, making the destination ‘un-competitive.’

The Deputy Tourism Minister, Mr Lazaro Nyalandu in reaction to that, said here the VAT issue was still open for debate and suggestions from players in the industry and that it wasn’t final.

“Ours is a ‘democratic’ country and the issue can be tabled for discussions,” said Mr Nyalandu adding that he was very aware that Tanzania was an expensive destination already even before VAT was slammed onto the industry.

“Take the costs of accommodation for instance, a night at a three-star level hotel in Tanzania is more expensive than that of a five-star hotel in Kenya, Botswana and other competing destinations,” said the Deputy Minister.

At the moment, Tanzania attracts an average of 1.2 million visitors per year, the highest figure yet and the country was already laying strategies to boost the tourists’ traffic to reach 2 million in few years’ time.

 

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