The Botswana government has canceled the $30 levy recently introduced, for fear of a backlash from stakeholders in the tourism sector. The levy will help in raising money for the country's safari preservation operations.
Jimmy Opelo, the Ministry of Environment, Natural Resources and Conservation’s permanent secretary, while addressing a Parliamentary Accounts Committee during a meeting said his ministry decided to cancel the Tourism Development Levy (TDL) bill – scheduled to be presented to the house in December 2017.
According to Jimmy Opelo, “The levy was withdrawn to allow the Botswana Tourism Organization and the Ministry to carry out further engagement and consult with the various stakeholders.”
Jimmy also said at the conclusion of the ongoing consultation with the various stakeholders, a new version of the bill might be presented for approval in accordance with the laid down procedures.
According to the plan, Tourists on arrival to the country from the airport will be asked to pay the Tourism fee. Collection of the levy was supposed to kick off from the month of June this year. A total number of 15 member countries of the SADC (Southern African Development Community) were excluded from paying the levy.
Opelo said the Ministry handling Tourism in the country – Tshekedi Khama had sent a written letter to Mokgweetsi Masisi, Vice President of Botswana, informing him of plans to withdraw the Bill.
The HATAB – Hospitality and Tourism Association of Botswana were displeased with the decision because they were not involved in the whole process. They were shocked to hear of the cancellation. According to the association, they were not informed about the withdrawal of the Bill and whether a final decision to continue with the action has been reached.
The association said, “The stakeholders were not consulted when the bill was being drafted. The introduction of such Tourism levy was made known in September this year, during the ITB in Germany, Berlin. And that its introduction to Botswana contradicts the country’s principles of consultation the nation is known to follow
She also said that the tourism sector was a bit jittery when Minister Khama announced that the levy would be fully implemented in June this year.
According to Rakorong, “In as much has the Botswana government has the right introduce any form of legislation, it should have been carried out after due consultation with the main stakeholders to ensure that their contribution is considered, so they are not affected negatively because of that.