Tourism players appeal for licence fee reprieve

By Nokuthaba Dlamini

TOURISM players in Victoria Falls are appealing to the government to suspend trading licence fees as most of the companies have lost more than 90 percent of their business due to Covid-19.

The appeal was made by the Employers Association of Tourism and Safari Operators (EASTO) president Clement Mukwasi amid reports that most companies have run out of financial reserves while other have completely shut down their businesses.

“We have lost over 90 percent of our business, and over 7000 tourism employees have been laid off since March,”Mukwasi said.

“The reserves of companies have been depleted and our creditors are on our necks every day, both locally and outside and the debtors are not paying us in order for us to be able to renew our operating licences, leases in national parks and forestry lands,” he explained.

“On top of that, government expects us to pay up so we have actually sent a word to government so that they may be a consideration of waiving the rentals and leases together with hunting conservancy fees among other charges that government levy on us in order for us to start recovery process.”

In August, President Emmerson Mnangagwa launched the National Tourism Recovery and Growth Strategy, which government said will focus on boosting domestic tourism.

The government, however, has been silent on the rescue package targeted specifically for the tourism industry.

In response, Finance and Economic Development minister Mthuli Ncube urged the tour operators to submit their rescue package request through their parent ministry, further adding that government was willing to offer loans to struggling tour operators

“Those who are struggling to pay their licence fees because they had to shut down their businesses because of Covid-19 should approach the ministry of tourism to make an appeal, and would like to believe that they will get a sympathetic ear,” Ncube said. 

“We put ZWL$18 billion rescue package where we set aside half a billion in terms of guarantee facility, so again they can approach us and seek support through that facility so that they can be able to get back in business and can be able to source working capital. We work closely with banks which they can seek credits from so that they can open businesses or cover any loss in order for them to resume their business.”

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