Vic Falls tourism players resist council rates

HARARE - Tourism operators in Victoria Falls are prepared to defend themselves in courts over non-payment of rates after the resort town’s local authority increased them by an astronomical 650 percent, Zimbabwe Tourism Authority (ZTA) has revealed.

Karikoga Kaseke, ZTA’s chief executive told Parliament this week that tourism operators and council did not find an amicable solution ever since they met to deliberate on the rates which were increased with effect from beginning of this year.

“Tourism operators actually proposed that council must increase by at least 35 percent. The 650 percent increase is not sustainable and no one is prepared to pay those rates in this dollarised economy. The council is adamant but industry is not paying. They (tourism operators) are ready to be taken to the courts and prepared to defend themselves,” said Kaseke.

He noted that there were some cases were the rate increase was justifiable in instances were others were paying as little as 45 cents but the paltry rates did not apply to the tourism industry.

“The industry players were paying plus or minus $3 000 per month which then led them to pay in excess of $15 000. They were saying no (to council), you should rationalise your rates rather than just say because there is a person who is paying 45 cents we increase by 650 percent across the board yet others are already paying reasonable rates of around $3 000,” said Kaseke.

He added that tourism industry players had no capacity to pay the current rates given the current depressed economic environment.

Tourism minister Walter Mzembi also described the rates increase as  “sheer madness”.

“I think we are now at a stage where this issue must escalate between me and Local Government minister Ignatius Chombo, so that we revisit this 650 percent hike. By all accounts anywhere in the world, any levy review of 650 percent is sheer madness, it will not keep the businesses going,” he said.

This comes as tourism players have been severely affected by the recently introduced 15 percent value added tax (Vat) on accommodation.

Apart from the Vat, Mzembi also revealed that the African Union is seriously considering a levy on foreign arrivals in the continent which will make Zimbabwe an expensive tourist destination.

The proliferation of tourism taxes 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.

Zimbabwe currently receives nearly 1,9 million tourists each year, according to ZTA.

Comments (3)

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the council rates are huge,and lets create a platform that allows the tourism sector to be viable

obert - 29 May 2015

We urge all residents to take budget increments serious when they are advertised.Lets object them in numbers at that time rather to wait when its implemented.Cause this court route put more emphasis on law rather than compassionate basis. The council will only say they followed the procedure to the latter noone objected,in this case only two objections were received instead of minimum of 30.

todiizvazvo - 29 May 2015

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