- Tanzania’s tour operators have pleaded with the speaker of the National Assembly, Mr Job Ndugai and the Parliamentary budget committee to guide the government to embrace some urgent measures to support the industry rebound on the back of the coronavirus crisis.
- Transparency in handling the Covid-19 pandemic in order to restore confidence to the outside World, is among the key issues featured prominently in the crucial meeting between the Tanzania Association of Tour Operators (TATO) delegation, Speaker Ndugai and the house budget committee held in Dodoma mid recently.
- The TATO mission led by its Chairman, Mr Willy Chambulo travelled to Dodoma to engage the speaker and the key house committee to advise the government on some important steps to take in order to support tourism’s recovery and resilience, amidst the Covid-19 pandemic.
Mr Chambulo said that Tanzania being part of the global tourism and business equations stands to lose in the long run, should it maintain its halfhearted attitude on Covid-19 pandemic handling.
“For instance, we ask you to advise the government to lower the cost of PCR test, put more testing centers, allow private hospitals and laboratories to test and issue the certificates within 24 hours at most” Mr Chambulo said in his presentation.
The delegation said that Tanzania loses nothing, for example, for being transparent and compliant to the World Health Organisation (WHO) guidance such as to recognize the vaccinated tourists.
TATO chief also asked the Parliament to counsel the government to offer the tour operators the tax amnesty as an incentive for them to be able to concentrate to revive business.
“We urge you to guide the government to introduce Tax Amnesty Law for individual and corporate taxpayers who have either failed to fulfill their tax obligations in previous year due to Covid-19 or having huge tax liabilities currently under litigation following special audit done by Task Force team to offer them a breathing space to start afresh” Chambulo said.
TATO proposed that the tax amnesty should benefit individuals and corporate companies who could settle their past liabilities under favorable conditions including to avoid penalties which exceed the net worth of many companies issued with an assessment.
“More importantly, we propose a Taxpayers Bill of Rights to defend assessments issued arbitrarily by special task force audit teams” he added.
TATO also asked the Parliamentary budget committee to remove VAT on government levies and taxes, defer enforcement of tourism related new taxes or fees, and abolish visa fees for the children below 16 years in a bid to boost family travel.
In terms of improving business and investment climate, TATO recommended ample time to comply with issues raised by some of the government regulatory agencies such as Occupational Safety and Health Authority (OSHA), the National Environment Management Council (NEMC), Tanzania Revenue Authority (TRA) and the Labour department owing to the fact that tourism industry is most hard hit by Covid-19 impacts.
“These state agencies are always imposing fines without warning or time to rectify the raised issues. We strongly recommend that there should always be a grace period to allow business to fix the errors’” Mr Chambulo presented.
Regarding the work permits, TATO’s take is that the document for the investors should be automatically renewable as far as the investor still resides in the country and does business.
TATO boss also urged that there should be synchronization with resident permits and quota of expatriates ought to be one to ten employee ratios at least.
“More seriously, we wish to see improved government communication around immigration and labor laws” he noted.
TATO delegation also made a commitment to the speaker Ndugai that it will work with his parliament to create more awareness of the tourism and hospitality subsector to the legislators and so that there is synergy towards meeting the ambitious target of reaching five million tourists as directed by the Manifesto of the ruling party.
For his part, speaker Ndugai thanked TATO for the vital role it plays in the tourism industry, expressing his commitment that his house will keep open arms for the tour operators to engage in a bid to take the industry to the next level.