REVENUE from the tourism sector and tourist arrivals have steadily increased by 17 and 2.4 per cent respectively from June to August compared to the same period last year.
A report by the Ministry of Natural Resources and Tourism on the status of the business in the sector and revenues from tourism, indicates that a total of 67.87m/- was earned during the past three months whereas 57.96m/- was collected during the same period last year.
The number of tourists who visited several national parks during the period also climbed up to 348,547 against 340,308 recorded the previous year. The report notes that the success serves as proof that Value Added Tax (VAT) on tourism services, introduced starting this financial year, has no effect on the sector as stakeholders, including legislators and MPs, had projected.
The VAT will be charged on tourist guiding, game driving, water safaris, animal or bird watching, national park fees and ground transport services.
When debating the 2016/17 budget estimates in the National Assembly, some MPs raised concern that enforcement of VAT on tourism services would kill the booming industry.
They suggested that the move would not only affect the tourism industry, but also benefit neighbouring Kenya which also has similar attractions as Tanzania, but has dropped such taxes after realising that it had affected their tourism sector negatively last year.
The report, which was released yesterday, shows that the monthly revenues for June, July and August was 12.99m/-, 22.82m/-, 22.15m/- respectively for last year while this year, the monthly earnings were 15.12m/-, 25.58m/- and 27.15m/-.
Tourists interviewed seemed not to be aware of VAT imposed on the services, with some even wondering why the government was not charging the tax.
However, a few of them expressed their feelings against the VAT because while they initially expected to pay 50 US dollars, they now cough up 70.8 US dollars after introduction of the tax.
To maintain the increased number of tourists, the Tanzania National Parks (TANAPA) has planned to set up better service centres, tourism sinks or picnic sites and signposts to improve the parks and make them more attractive.
The report says that the next plans would also consider introduction of a new Mount Kilimanjaro climbing facility by using a cable and put in place rescue services using helicopters.
This year, TANAPA also looks forward to intensify campaigns through the international media and participate in various international tourist exhibitions to market the country’s tourist attractions internationally.
This would include inviting 50 international tourist agents and 50 journalists to visit the country’s tourist sites annually. Marketing the country’s tourist attractions would be done with other institutions such as the Tanzania Tourist Board (TTB). Implementation of the new strategies has already started.
Furthermore, TANAPA is set to conduct online training for tourist agents in Germany to enable them understand the country’s tourist attractions. Another measure would be to pick a country’s representative in US who would promote Tanzania’s tourism there.