100 000 tourism jobs on the line

HARARE - Zimbabwe risks losing 100 000 potential jobs in the tourism industry following the introduction of 15 percent value added tax  (Vat) on foreign tourists, the Zimbabwe Council for Tourism (ZCT) has warned.

Francis Ngwenya, the ZCT president, told businessdaily that the tourism sector targeted to grow its workforce from the current 300 000 to 400 000 this year on the back of  increased tourist arrivals.

However, he said “the imposition of 15 percent levy on non-resident Zimbabweans will slow down our ability to attract high value tourists because we are now an expensive tourism destination”.

In January, government imposed a 15 percent tax on foreign tourists’ accommodation. Zimbabwe has not been charging Vat on foreigners’ accommodation payments and tourism-related services. When the Vat system was introduced in 2003, the travel and tourism sector was recognised as an exporter and was exempt from Vat on foreign visitors’ payments.

Ngwenya, nonetheless, said tourism players will continue to negotiate with the government to find lasting solutions to make the country more competitive so that it can attract more foreign tourists.

“This Vat is now in place but we shall continue lobbying as we strongly believe vat is an obstacle to growth and development and will serve to make this a more expensive and thus less competitive destination,” he said.

The recent tourism hike is not only threatening the creation of jobs in the tourism industry but also has far-reaching implications on the sector which is struggling to reach the peak of 2, 2 million tourists recorded in 1999.

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