THE Hotel, Catering, Tourism and Allied Workers Union of Zambia has lamented the many taxes in Zambia’s tourism and hospitality which retard the sector’s growth.
At a media briefing at Southern Sun Hotel in Lusaka yesterday, Union president Michelo Chizyuka reminded the government to remember that the country’s tourism: “is still a baby; it needs to grow.”
He was flanked by the union’s general secretary Leviticus Mwanza and his deputy Maurice Sangulube.
“We have huge competitors around that have existed, in terms of tourism, and they are so popular and known by the world. Talk about Zimbabwe; it is more popular, in terms of tourism. We need to compete! We have Botswana, Kenya, South Africa, Namibia; these countries are so popular in tourism,” Chizyuka said.
He noted that the many taxes that hampered tourism in Zambia did not exist, as much, in some of the aforementioned countries.
“We have too many taxes in our tourism and hospitality and they are simply retarding growth in the sector. We need to open our tourism destination; we need to make it cheaper so that we encourage more tourists to flow into this country. We can do away with visas temporarily and it will benefit us at some point,” he said.
“We are the least, in terms of tourism popularity, when you do a comparison with the countries that I mentioned and that is despite sharing the Victoria Falls with Zimbabwe. Our background as a country is mining and that made us to ignore the tourism aspect.
So, we need to market our destination by removing all these kinds of blockages that are making it difficult to travel to this country.”
Chizyuka explained that when Zambia do away with visas, the country would become an open kind of a tourism destination and that: “everyone will rush here.”
“Every tourist will prefer Zambia and after two or three years, the people (tourists) will be enticed by many attractions and Zambia would have become their preferred tourism destination,” said Chizyuka.
“At that point, visas can be re-introduced because tourists would have been used to visiting Zambia. Alternatively, we can also reduce the cost of visa applications.”
Meanwhile, Mwanza noted that the other thing that destroys Zambia’s tourism was the national park fees which are too high.
“When you compare with other countries, those are at a minimal fee. Check with Zimbabwe, Botswana, Kenya…. But here we have turned national park fees as income-generating [mechanisms] for the government,” said Mwanza.
By Chambwa Moonga