Tourism players call for sector tax breaks until recovery

June 19, 2015
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Agatha Juma with KAHC's Mike Macharia during the press conference. Photo/ COURTESY
Agatha Juma with KAHC’s Mike Macharia during the press conference. Photo/ COURTESY

, NAIROBI, Kenya Jun 19 – The tourism sector is lobbying the government to give them tax breaks until the sector gets back on its feet.

Kenya Tourism Federation Chief Executive Officer Agatha Juma says the tax on the sector is only making things worse as local tourism products have become more expensive hence uncompetitive.

The Value Added Tax Act 2013 slapped a 16 percent levy on services offered by tour operators and hoteliers which players claim its threatening recovery efforts.

“The tourism sector is committed to paying taxes but times have been so hard for the sector we need tax breaks, so as the industry can fully recover,” Juma said.

Kenya Association of Tour Operators (KATO) Chief Executive Fred Kaigua says for the industry to go back on its feet, Kenya has to be able to play at a competitive level with other players.

“The sector has been experiencing a lot of problems, over 30,000 people lost their jobs it’s a high time we think about these taxes,” he said.

The federation however welcomed the move by the United Kingdom government to remove the travel advisory for Mombasa and the entire stretch from Watamu to the border with Tanzania. Juma said the amendment of advisory comes as a most welcome relief for Coastal tourism and is viewed as a direct reflection of the gains made to improve the safety and security in that region.

Kenya received 117, 201 visitors from the UK at the close of 2014 which has been the leading source market for Kenya at 23 percent. The drop in arrivals compared to 149,699 in 2013 can be attributed largely to the 14 month ban on non-essential travel.

Kenya Tourism Board (KTB) has also welcomed the move pointing out that with the re-opening of the area of the Kenya coast north of Mombasa, British consumers will once again be offered a wider beach offering, either combined with a safari in one of Kenya’s 59 national parks or as a stand-alone holiday.

‘We are delighted with the Foreign and Commonwealth Office’s decision to lift their travel advice for Kenya’s coast from Watamu to Diani as announced yesterday. While our operators have continued to send their guests to the southern areas of the coast including Diani, Wasini and Msambweni we look forward to welcoming guests back to Mombasa and the beautiful coastline of Watamu and Kilifi,” said KTB Managing Director Murithi Ndegwa.

Kenya’s coastline offers about 500kms of pristine Indian Ocean beaches and the following areas will now be open the UK traveller to enjoy: Watamu, Kilifi, Mtwapa, Shanzu, Bamburi, Mombasa Island, Nyali, Likoni, Tiwi, Diani, Galu beaches , Kinondo, Msambweni, Funzi, Shimoni and Wasini Island.

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