VAT DECISION ROBS CONSERVATION OF MUCH NEEDED FUNDS
(Posted 05th September 2013)
In order to soften the massive blow the Kenyan government has dealt the country’s tourism industry by introducing a 16 percent VAT charge on a range of previously exempt tourism services, have some operators announced some short term relief for their clients by reducing tariffs in order to cushion the major rise in cost now underway for safari services across the country.
Ol Pejeta was as usual swift in getting out of the starting blocks by announcing a temporary reduction in entrance fees to the conservancy, when Richard Vigne, CEO of the conservancy and ranch, sent out this information yesterday afternoon:
Some of the more outspoken regulars who contribute facts, opinions and feedback, have sharply condemned the Kenya government and in particular parliament for having passed the bill in its present format, and spared no criticism for President Kenyatta either for assenting to the bill and make it a law, as in the words of one ‘they are now robbing conservation of funds. Ol Pejeta is a good example. They are lowering entrance tariffs to as you say cushion the impact but it takes away money which was budgeted for conservation. This government should not wonder what it has coming now. It is time to take the gloves off and take them to task. What they publicly say about tourism and conservation is different from their actions. They should cut the bloated civil service. They should cut wastage in government expenditure. Kenyans are not paying taxes to eternally feed fat cat politicians and give them millionaire life styles. Whatever good plans this government has is being spoiled by such action. We are all in this together like it or not and this move on taxes does not, absolutely not support tourism or create an environment in which tourism can grow. We all know the coast is struggling and that is a very important element in our industry. You said south coast occupancies are down to some 35 or so percent compared with 65 two years ago? It is time for our industry captains to tell the president and the minister some hard facts whether they like it or not. If we don’t act now we might lose another year and our competition does not sleep. South Africa will be laughing about our foolishness to add VAT to tourism services while we shoot ourselves in the foot’. Time as usual will tell and the answers, if KTB is getting the extra 3 billion the president promised or if the government will review its VAT policy, considering that tourism is an invisible export, will be featuring right here, so watch this space.