Tanzania: Govt Softens Its Stance On Tourism Services VAT

The government has said it is willing to meet tourism industry players over the contentious value added tax (VAT) imposed on tourism services to find out why they are against it.

The Minister for Natural Resources and Tourism, Prof Jumanne Maghembe, said here on Wednesday that concerns voiced by tour operators were "discussable" although he was not categorical on whether the government would seriously consider waiving the tax, which has been bitterly criticised since it came into effect on July 1.

Tour operators are of the view that the tax would have a devastating effect on tourism, which is the country's leading foreign exchange earner.

However, Prof Maghembe allayed fears that the tax would cause a decline in tourist arrivals, at least in the short term, saying the number of visitors was still good.

"Go and see for yourself the long lines of vehicles bringing tourists into Ngorongoro and Serengeti. It does not in any way point to a decline," he said when asked by reporters to comment on the chorus of complaints about the tax.

The minister added that the VAT at the centre of the row between the government and tour operators was discussed by Parliament's committee responsible for the sector last year, but no complaints were raised then.

He said, however, that the government was ready to sit down and discuss the matter with tour operators, who have been more vocal against the tax than other players in the industry.

Source: Tanzania Daily News