Lupita Island Lodge ownership challenged by Tanzanian government


The Tanzanian government has challenged the ownership of the Lupita Island Resort which according to information available on the internet is owned and managed by Tanzania by Firelight, a top of the scale safari and lodge operation founded in 1989 by Tom Lithgow and his wife Belinda. Lupita Island Resort comprises 11 lavishly furnished luxury cottages, the largest of which is 2.400 sq ft large, and sits on an island of 130 acres.

The company also owns and manages the Palahala Camp in Katavi and the Mwanga Moto Mobile Tented Camp in the Serengeti and the island resort on Lake Tanganyika has operated for years without problems with the business reportedly holding all required licenses.

Regular sources from Arusha have suggested that government officials may have tried to ‘muscle in’ either by attempting to get shares from the Tanzanian born naturalized citizen or else may have attempted to extort bribes before then trying to create a range of problems for the owners. ‘This is not unusual. You invest in Tanzania and the mindset by some government officials then is that they are your co-owners and you owe them something because you are rich. Attempts to get bribes are common and in particular foreign investors are often threatened with all sorts of action against them including having them deported. And if you resist they swamp you with labour investigations or tax audits or over alleged license violations, anything until you cave in’ said one frequent source before adding ‘… or does anyone think Tom invested a million or what dollars on land which is not his? Surely not’. Controversy, is it a regular style of government in Tanzania – questions upon questions of how business is done there, or rather prevented and discouraged? For certain not a good story, helpful to attract more investors into the tourism industry thinks this correspondent.

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