The government of Botswana has cancelled the introduction of a US$30 levy on tourists – aimed at raising money to preserve its safari operations – fearing a backlash from tourism industry stakeholders.
Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Environment, Natural Resources and Conversation, Jimmy Opelo, told a Parliamentary Accounts Committee: “This withdrawal is to enable the Ministry and Botswana Tourism Organisation to conduct further engagement with various stakeholders.”
The Hospitality and Tourism Association of Botswana (HATAB) had laid a complaint against the decision for not being involved in coming up with the charges.
“Even prior to the drafting of the Bill there was no consultation with stakeholders. As much as the government has the prerogative to introduce any piece of legislation, this should be done after there has been consultation with relevant stakeholders to ensure that their input is taken into consideration to avoid a situation whereby they are affected negatively,” said Lily Rako- rong, CEO of the HATAB.
The suggestion of a tourism tax comes at odds with the current trend for centralised African government to make travelling between nations cheaper and easier for tourists.
Centralised government needs to realise how important tourism is for Africa and that taxes on tourism, undertaken without consultation and impact statements from knowledgeable bodies, could lead to a breaking down of the progress Africa is making in trying to open up its borders.