The Zimbabwean government has defended a 15 percent tax on hotel accommodation for foreign tourists which was introduced early this year, saying it was a norm in the region.When addressing a parliamentary committee on Monday, Permanent Secretary for the Ministry of Finance, Willard Manungo, said the government had collected 1.65 million U.S. dollars from the tax in the first quarter of 2015.
The tourism sector has criticized the levy, arguing that it makes Zimbabwe an expensive tourism destination and in turn is likely to affect the sector.
However, Manungo defended the levy, saying it was not unique in Zimbabwe as all countries in southern Africa except Zambia have such a tax.
He said the government was aware of the important role the tourism sector plays in efforts to resuscitate the economy and had extended a number of tax concessions to the sector to support its recovery.
The concessions included a rebate on capital goods and motor vehicles for the tourism sector, he said.
“In 2014 we have foregone over 2 million U.S. dollars in terms of duty that would have been paid by the tourism sector,” he said.
Zimbabwe’s tourism industry is trying to recover from a decade of decline due to negative publicity that the country received from Western media.
The country last year saw 1.88 million tourist arrivals, a 2.6 percent increase from 2013, earning 827 million dollars in tourism receipts.
However, recent years’ tourist arrivals remain below the 1999 peak of 2.2 million. Enditem