Government mulls one stop shop for tourism tax issues

Friday July 29 2022
Pindi Chana

The minister for Natural Resources and Tourism, Dr Pindi Chana speaking in past event. PHOTO | COURTESY

By Zephania Ubwani

Arusha. A one stop shop for tax clearance in tourism and tourism-related services has been mulled.

This will, among others, ensure the visitors to the national parks and other sites are served promptly with minimum red tape.

“To address the anomaly, there will be a one stop shop for payment of all levies,” said the minister for Natural Resources and Tourism Pindi Chana.

She told the heads of departments and agencies under the ministry that she was aware of complaints over the settlement for such charges. While some tourism service operators consider the charges (taxes, fees and levies) to be “too high” others are bothered by the payment procedures.

Dr Chana, who was speaking here this week, could not elaborate more on the proposed system but hinted it would be rolled out soon.

“The ministry has started to work on this. We will put in place a system where all categories of payments will be settled at one centre”, she said.

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She said this was among the key decisions made at the 13th meeting of the Tanzania National Business Council (TNBC) in Dodoma.

The ministry was also going through laws and regulations with the aim to improve the Tourism Development Levy (TDL) payment system. The minister said the realignment of taxation in the hospitality sector will also involve the local government authorities.

The latter have often been blamed for imposing levies on the tourists traversing through their districts to the sites. Years’ long efforts to remove levies charged on the transiting tourists have been futile because the local councils could not act.

Dr Chana, however,said discussions were underway between her ministry and the Local Government and Regional Administration (Tamisemi) ministry over the issue.

The meeting, held under the framework of ‘the Ministerial Public Private Dialogue on Policy Reforms’, was aimed to improve business and investments in the sector.

By virtue of her position, she is the chairperson of the ministerial task force on the public private dialogue and policy reforms in the Tourism sector. Dr Chana challenged the senior officials in the ministry to come out with “strategic recommendations” which can take Tanzania’s tourism to another level.

During the day-long dialogue, the Tanzania Association of Tour Operators (Tato) reiterated their concerns on the multiple taxes.

The association’s chairman Wilbroad Chamburo said taxation in Tanzania’s tourism industry has remained high compared to her competitors in the region.

He cited the Tourist Agency Licensing Authority (Tala) licence pegged at $2,000 which, he said, was prohibitive to local tour operators.

“Tala tax is a burden to us” echoed Samuel Diah, the chairman of Tanzania Local Tour Operators (TLTO), a lobby for small scale operators.

He said taxes have pushed the local tour operators in a tighter corner compared to large companies with roots outside the country.

“We have to pay back loans yet their businesses were heavily impacted by Covid-19”, he explained.

Tato vice chairman Henry Kimambo attributed multiple taxation in the hospitality industry to a host of regulatory agencies.

Other speakers said high taxation has made Tanzania an expensive destination for tourists compared to the country’s close competitors.

These are largely manifested in the often disputed value added tax (VAT) and the concession fees.