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Storm over new tourism levy



MASERU – THE Association of Lesotho Hotels and Hospitality says it is not happy with the introduction of the new tourism levy as they will be laden with more work to collect the levy.

The levy has now been revised from the initial five percent to 1.5 percent.

The Lesotho Tourism Development Corporation (LTDC) yesterday spoke about the new tourism levy requirements which became effective on October 1.

The chairperson of Lesotho Hotels and Hospitality Association (LHHA), Tsunyane Tšotetsi, said tourism players will be obliged to collect the levy.

He said those who fail to abide with the new law will be prosecuted.

However, he said there are no incentives stipulated or initiatives to assist them.

He said instead they are going to incur more costs of hiring people who will work on the administration of the levy.

“The initiative is good but the approach has not been correct,” he said.

Tšotetsi said they do not feel like they are part of this initiative.

He said the decisions were taken without their input.

He said the overall structure of the initiative does not consider the private sector.

Instead it is focused on generating revenue for the government.

He said about 50 percent of the money which will be raised through the tourism levy will go directly to the government.

He added that timing was also wrong because the tourism sector is still trying to recover from the Covid-19 pandemic.

“If the government already does not have money, who do they expect to come as our clients,” he said.

He said when they wrote to the LTDC in May they were directed to submit their concerns through the Lesotho Council of Tourism (LCT).

However, he said the LTDC decided to ignore all their concerns.

“They only attended the price issue where the amount was revised down,” he said.

Tšotetsi said one of their major issues was the representation in the tourism levy committee where they have one seat through the LCT.

He said this initiative began with terms which do not suit the private sector.

“Instead this is the initiative of the government to collect the levy,” he said.

According to the head of Finance and Administration at the LTDC, Thetso Thamae, the tourism levy is one of the taxes which countries decided to venture into.

This was to generate income for the development of the tourism sector.

Thamae said the tourism levy board will be responsible for the administration and management of tourism levy while the LTDC will keep the money in a separate account.

50percent of the levy collected will be allocated in the development of the sector and 30 percent will be for the administration at the LTDC.

Thamae said ten percent will go directly to the Ministry of Tourism for the establishment of new laws.

He said the law has already been implemented from October 1. Thamae called for other entrepreneurs to come on board.

The Chief Executive Officer of LTDC, Retšelisitsoe Nko, said it has been 15 years since the government has been working on this law.

He said the introduction of a tourism levy was meant to support the development of the tourism sector so as to reach international standards.

He said they are seeking to make a contribution to the government revenue. He said the initiative will help create jobs for Basotho.

“We are not seeking to hurt the entrepreneurs but to improve the industry,” he said.

Refiloe Mpobole


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