MY RESPONSE TO HON JUMANNE MAGHEMBE.
First of all, allow me to acknowledge and thank you Hon Maghembe for having taken the time to RESPOND this particular concern of tourism stakeholders both in Tanzania mainland and Zanzibar. In reality, with my humble apologies, you have completely disregard the matter and your response is in no relation with what the tourism stakeholders are pleading. Many of the investors who are engaged directly or indirectly in tourism are begging you to review and reverse your decisition based on a WIN WIN situation. The recent implementation of the VAT on tourism services to which your Ministry has a constitutional right, is detrimental on a short term and long term towards the tourism industry in the United Republic of Tanzania. As we all know, our good neighbours in Kenya, has somehow similar attractions as Tanzania that we both offer to an average international traveller so called 'tourist'. We both, meaning Tanzania and Kenya rely on the European summer to capture their summer holidays by inviting them to holiday in our respective countries. Hence, it is ultimate that we both ( Kenya and Tanzania) will find ourselves promoting and selling our hotels and attractions as a destination in their respective promotional travel shows. Where there is a Kenyan Tour Operator, you are most likely to see a Tanzanian offering the same. This is where a tourist visiting East Africa will make his/her decision towards the destination.
Now, with regard to the current global economy and international travel based on the current trend, the few issues that an average traveller will consider are as follow :-
b) Value for money
c) Attractions and Excursions
d) How long will it take to get there ( Duration of flights and prices)
e) Weather, Food, Culture, Entertainments and so on
Now, the issue of the stakeholders that are having difficulties in meeting some of the above, in order to pursue and convince a client and operators in Europe and other places, is to pay extra taxes (VAT) on certain areas while holidaying in Tanzania. At the same time, our neighbours in Kenya have united between the private sector and the government to revive their destination by making it not only value for money but GOING AN EXTRA MILE TO GIVE BACK IN RETURN AS SUCH BY REMOVING CERTAIN FEES ON KIDS UNDER THE AGE OF 16.
The knock-on-effects to the economy in imposing such taxes bearing in mind, that Tanzania & Kenya are competive markets albeit having different economic policies will make other sectors to be vulnerable and shaky. We cannot ignore our competitors actions as though we are a silo with no economic ramifications, by neglecting such concessions offered by our neighboring countries or other destinations with similar distinctive characteristics.
Now, the question to ask ourselves, how do we expect to sell somehow a similar product to a traveller? As we all know, we have Serengeti to offer, Kenyans have Maasai Mara, we have Zanzibar as a beach and cultural destination, they have Mombasa and Lamu, we have Selous, they have Tsavo, we have Kilimanjaro located in our country, they have a stunning view of Kilimanjaro from the Amboseli due to the geographical location of the mountain, we have Lake Manyara, they have Lake Nakuru, we have Tarangire, they offer a comparable product which is Nairobi National Park. Bear in mind, most of all these attractions lie on the same rift valley and have identical climatic conditions and rich in wild life which is our selling chip. Now ask yourself, how does one compete here to attract visitors to come for holiday in Tanzania. For sure, the main and fundamental issue is finances and a client would definitely consider an affordable destination for safari. As a minister responsible for tourism, you are bound to encourage and support this particular requirement to enhance and making the industry value for money.
Finally, I am kindly requesting you, to consider the request of the tourism stakeholders, to meet them and to find and an amicable solution for the sake of the industry and our great country. Kindly take into consideration, the Tanzania Investment Act of 1997, Part 2, Section 6 whereby it reads as follow : For the purpose of Section 5,
the center shall
a) Initiate and support measures that will enhance the investment climate in the country for both local and foreign investors
g) Carry out and support local investment promotion activities which are necessary which are necessary to encourage and facilitate increased local investments, including entrepreneurial development programmes.
To this, as a big supporter of this particular sector and having engaged myself for so many years, I truly hope that you will be able to consider and honour the request of the investors. Besides, most of the contracts and costs are normally sent to operators in Europe and other places months in advance to allow tourists to make choices for the destinations they would like to visit. Therefore, the sudden introduction of such taxes will cause chaos and regard us as a nuisance and unfriendly destination. A lower arrivals in mainland for safari means less arrivals in Zanzibar as between 35% to 40% of tourists visiting mainland Tanzania end up in Zanzibar. This what we have built for years, bush and the beach. The choice is yours Sir.
Simai Mohammed Said ( BLW )
Member, House of Representatives
Tunguu Constituecy, Zanzibar.