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Tourism to curb levies leakage

Mon, 24 August 2015 17:26
by Donald Matthys

Environment and Tourism Minister Pohamba Shifeta says his Ministry will work on amendments to curb the low inflow of levies collected through local tourism activities.

Speaking to The Villager, Shifeta said the Namibian Tourism Board (NTB) currently does not have enough power or legislation to demand all levies garnered by registered accommodation organisations like lodges and campsites. In order to control this, they are going to empower the NTB, especially with regards to collecting tourism levies.

“Namibia has been receiving a high number of tourists, so looking at figures of 1.4 million arrivals and travelling done by locals, the tourism levies do not even account for 60% of revenue. It just doesn’t make sense,” Shifeta charged.

A tourism levy is a non-taxable amount which is paid to the NTB by a relevant organisation, and is normally included in the money tourists or visitors of campsites and lodges have to pay.

According to the NTB, every owner of a registered accommodation establishment, other than a campsite or a camping and caravan park, must pay a levy to the NTB, at the same time and in the manner prescribed by regulations.

“All registered accommodation facilities are obliged to pay their levies to the Tourism Board, but levy payments made to the NTB have not been levelling with the number of tourist visits made to Namibia,” Shifeta reiterated.

According to the most recent foreign and tourist figures, arrivals increased by 5.5% from 2012 to 2013.

In 2013, total foreign arrivals accounted for 1 372 602, of which tourists amounted to 1 176 042, representing 86% of all foreign arrivals.
Shifeta went on to say that although the NTB gets the majority of their funding from the government, tourism levies are very important for the Tourism Board to carry out its mandate extensively.

According to the NTB, the penalty for not submitting levy payments in the expiry period of 14 days will have the owner of a tourist accommodation facility charged with an offence. Therefore, upon conviction, such owner will be liable to a fine not exceeding N$4 000, or a sentence of imprisonment not exceeding a year, or both.

According to Monthly Tourism Report of June 2015, the room occupancy index declined to 84.7 basis points, representing a decline of 31.2 per cent. The beds’ occupancy index declined from 106.1 points during the previous month to 84.2 points in the month under review, translating into a decline of 20.6 per cent and 20.1 per cent over the month and on an annual basis, respectively.

The same report indicates that the index for regional and international arrivals picked up slightly and stood at 102.3 in June 2015, compared to 100.9 points the previous month, an increase of 1.4 per cent over the month and 3.7 per cent over the year.
The report further stated that the regional and international departures’ index recorded 100.4 basis points during June 2015, which is a decline of 0.5 per cent monthly and 2.6 per cent on an annual basis.