Home » Travel » Mzembi Breathes Fire

Tourism and Hospitality Industry Minister Walter Mzembi, has criticised the Victoria Falls Municipality for hiking rates by 650 percent despite Government having ordered a freeze pending consultations.

Minister Mzembi said in an interview on Wednesday that such a move was counter-productive and would stifle the growth of the tourism industry, not only in the country, but also in the region.

Local Government, Public Works and National Housing acting permanent secretary Retired Colonel Joseph Mhakayakora, told the Parliamentary committee on Environment, Water, Tourism and Hospitality Industry on Monday that the rates hike had been implemented.

He said some tourism operators in the resort town would now pay as much as $9 000 a month in rates. Minister Mzembi said very few tourism players would be able to keep their businesses afloat after paying such high rates.

“I am really shocked by the degree of bureaucratic intransigence and overzealousness to administer vestiges of quasi-colonial municipal by-laws, consultation processes and one size fit all anti business tariffs that disregard completely operational viability. And this business of disregarding ministerial directives will not assist Zim-Asset,” he said.

“We are only taxing the tourist to death. And who will visit us? I am definitely engaging my counterpart Cde Saviour Kasukuwere (Minister of Local Government, Public Works and National Housing) over this increase.”

“In fact, you may be interested to know that I had engaged the then responsible Minister of Local Government, Public Works and National Housing Dr Ignatius Chombo over this matter and we had agreed that the increase should be frozen.”

Minister Mzembi said it was wrong for Local Government officials to rush to Parliament with the matter before consutations were over.

” Our bilateral position with Dr Chombo was a directive to Victoria Falls Municipality through Principal Director for Urban and Local Authorities Ms Erica Jones that the two parties further engage towards a differential tariff formula and get back to us, not Parliament or the press,” he said.

“I am sure the new minister has not been appraised about this, but being a businessman that he is in his other life he will certainly understand what we sought to achieve. We need measured and sober responses to the challenges facing our economy and bureaucratic bravado will not help at this stage of implementing recovering solutions to ailing businesses.”

Minister Mzembi said tourism was a highly competitive market in which fixed products (destinations) were selected by mobile consumers with multiple destination choices, a dynamic that may increase the price elasticity of demand.

“As a result, the sector is particularly sensitive to issues related to imposed taxes and tax competition.” He said the tourist was being taxed several times through Value Added Tax, visa fees, airport taxes, food, accommodation, local transport and many other avenues meant to dry up their pockets.

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