The Zimbabwe Council for Tourism has pledged to continue lobbying for zero rating for foreign visitors’ accommodation payments as the recently-imposed VAT threatens the tourism sector recovery.
Addressing a media briefing, ZCT President Francis Ngwenya said VAT had been introduced on foreign payments despite protracted lobbying by the council and others.
“It has the effect of making Zimbabwe an uncompetitive destination and comes at a time when we are working towards rebuilding tourism after a long period of decline,” he said.
The VAT was introduced in January.
He said: “After an extended period of lobbying, there was excitement in the travel and tourism sector when the Minister of Finance and Economic Development did not extend VAT to accommodation for foreign visitors in his 2015 national budget.”
The sector was therefore disappointed when they received a letter from Zimra advising that operators should be prepared to collect VAT on foreign visitors accommodation payments from January 1 2015. A Statutory Instrument to that effect was subsequently gazetted on January 15.
“This VAT is now in place but we shall continue lobbying as we strongly believe this VAT is an obstacle to growth and development and will only make Zimbabwe a more expensive and thus less competitive destination. We are pleased that the government did accede to our request to renew duty concessions to the sector but we regret that they have left out some important segments of travel and tourism, such as vehicle rental companies and tour operators,” he said.
The ZCT president also said the council would soon introduce a new set of awards for the travel and tourism sector, to be known as the Tourism Achievers’ Awards.
“We are at present seeking sponsorship to make this happen and it is our plan to use these awards to recognise and reward effort and achievement in the promotion of travel and tourism in Zimbabwe,” he said.