Tourism and hospitality stakeholders have urged the government to scale down taxes and levies in the tourism industry to attract more domestic visitors and recreate jobs for the youth.

They argue that the industry risks extreme revenue drop unless taxes and levies at the national and county levels are harmonized. Industry players say that levies introduced by counties coupled with already existing statutory taxes are pushing up the cost of tourism products.

Kenya Coast Working Group Chair and Managing Director for PrideInn hotels Hasnain Noorani, says Kenya risks losing business if prices offered are way above our neighboring competitors for instance Tanzania, Rwanda, South Africa and other countries.

According to Noorani the industry is currently experiencing the burden of paying taxes during this Corona period when business proprietors are required to remit their dues, renew licenses and others do renovation after lockdown. 

“We don’t have a problem with paying levies since we have to support the government in its endeavors to deliver service. However, some licenses and fees imposed to the industry are a bit punitive. We would appreciate if some of these licenses were traded off for levies,” said Noorani.

“Despite many levies being long-standing in nature, there has been a general increase in the number and scope of tourism-related taxes, fees and charges over the last couple of years. The higher taxes make Kenya as a destination too expensive,” said Victor Shitakha, Chairman of the Kenya Coast Tourism Association (KTCA).

Stakeholders want the government to scale down taxes in the tourism and hospitality industry so as to attract more domestic merry makers and recreate lost jobs for the youth especially at a time like this when the economy is negatively impacted by Covid-19 pandemic.