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Government introduces tourism levy



MASERU – THE government has introduced a tourism levy which will be effective from July 1.
The Lesotho Tourism Development Corporation (LTDC) announced this in Maseru yesterday.

The LTDC Head of Finance and Administration, Thetso Thamae, said the tourism levy is a tax which will be imposed on all the categories of tourists.
He said the government introduced the levy so as to increase its revenue pool.

“This levy will be significant for infrastructure development, airport rehabilitation and growing the economy of the country,” Thamae said.

“This levy will be specifically in the development and maintenance of tourism products and tourism entities,” he said.

“This levy will also be used to market Lesotho, locally and internationally.”

He said it will also be used for building the capacity of tourism enterprises.
Thamae said the sectors which will be affected include accommodation facilities, tourist attractions, events, parks, tour operators and travel agents.

He said the levy will also be collected at ports of entry from travellers who will be towing or loading vehicles for leisure and tourism related activities to be done in Lesotho.
For this to happen, tourism businesses are required to apply so that they can be able to collect the levy.

“The levy on tourist attractions will range from M5 to M20 depending on age while the border ports will range from M10 to M20,” he said.

He said the events levy will be M5 on each ticket while travel agents ticket levy is M10.
He said the annual levy for tour operators is M1 000.

Thamae said the LTDC team is already holding discussions with the affected sectors on how to make this law a success.
Tourism Levy Officer, ’Masakeng Khasake, said the team which will work on the tourism levy management includes the director of tourism within the Ministry of Tourism and the LTDC officials, among others.

Khasake said there will be information collection and desk research, benchmarking with other countries which are already collecting the tourism levy.
He said they further conducted the consultation with stakeholders and the document was designed.

Chairperson of Lesotho Hotels and Hospitality Association (LHHA), Tsunyane Tšotetsi, said their hands are tied since this law has already been amended.
He said the problem with this law is the timing of its implementation.

He said this is coming at a time when their industry has been hit badly by Covid-19 and they are already struggling to sustain their businesses.
He said he is already struggling to get clients at his guest house.
Tšotetsi said since August last year, there was a significant drop in the number of clients.

“How am I going to increase the price for accommodation yet I am already struggling to get one client?” he said.

Tšotetsi said the committee which will administer, manage and collect the tourism levy has too many government delegates.
He said the private sector only has one representative.

“The private sector has to dominate in the committee since the tourism levy directly affects us,” he said.

“We are also not comfortable that the committee dominated by government delegates will be collecting the levy since we do not have trust in the government to handle such finances.”

“The committee seats have to be reviewed.”

He said the LTDC will get 30 percent of the levy collected.

“This is not fair,” he argued.

Tšotetsi said the new levy will knock out their businesses.
Scenery Guesthouse managing director, ’Marethabile Sekhiba, said the tourism levy is a very good thing to boost the country’s economy but the timing was not right.

Sekhiba said most businesses in the tourism industry are still recovering from Covid-19 shocks.

“So it would be better if the government had waited for a certain period of time for our businesses to recover,” Sekhiba said.

Refiloe Mpobole

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