More taxes will kill coast tourism for sure say senior stakeholders in Mombasa

MOMBASA COUNTY ACCUSED OF KILLING TOURISM WITH NEW TAXES

(Posted 06th December 2013)

Only a week after the Mombasa county government demanded a 500 Kenya Shilling bed tax from all hotels and resorts, per month, not per year, have the same officials now also demanded a tax on each tourist vehicle of 3.500 Kenya Shillings a month, or equivalent of about 40 US Dollars per month or nearly 500 US Dollars per year. While county official claim this money would go towards projects supporting tourism, industry stakeholders flatly denied such plans and accused the county officials of misleading the public, as in the words of one regular contributor ‘whatever money they hope to raise it is purely to pay themselves hefty allowances and perks and benefits. Whatever money they try to extract from us, will not benefit tourism at all but kill it. The level of taxes and fees is already overwhelming. We pay tax to the central government, for our licenses and all and not those chaps also want money from us. Have they not worked it out yet that tourism at the coast is in dire straits and on the downturn?’ while another said tongue in cheek ‘you might say this is not the time to say I TOLD YOU SO but in fact this is exactly the time. Those two thirds who voted to adopt the new constitution are to blame for this mess. Not one of them bothered about listening to reason at the time if we could even afford that develoved system of governance. Not one of them looked at the cost of it all and now that they are all squeezed dry by KRA and all sorts of council charges, now they wake up and wonder what hit them. Tourism is not a sector to play around with. The country is not doing well and our governments, central and local, fail to see how their taxes are making things worse. VAT was a terrible mistake because we are now expensive. Uganda lifted that provision and we should do the same thing. You cannot raise prices when your arrivals are plummeting. The perception about Kenya out there is not the best right now and raising prices at the same time is an overkill’.

Tour operator sources close to KATO, the Kenya Association of Tour Operators, have also denounced the planned added taxes in the strongest possible terms and called on the Mombasa County Government to immediately withdraw their attempt to ‘tax us to death’ as another source put it.

Watch this space for breaking and regular news from the tourism sectors across Eastern Africa.

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