The government has been urged to scale down taxes in the hospitality and tourism industry in order to attract more visitors and create jobs for the youth.
The General Manager of the newly completed Tandy’s Suites in Nakuru town, Sylvester Muli, said the hospitality industry was one of the main drivers of Kenya’s economy, contributing significantly to the Gross Domestic Product and should be protected from over taxation. He was addressing a press conference at the hotel yesterday.
Muli said, since the country lacks a strong manufacturing sector, hospitality and tourism were a major export earner for the national and county governments but lamented that over taxation was weighing down the industry.
He said whenever the government seeks to raise revenue to fund projects, the industry was always the primary target, and now they are paying numerous levies and taxes.
The Manager said the taxes range from room charges, landing fees, land rates, beverage or alcohol license and game drive fees. He noted that the net effect was high holiday costs, which made the country an expensive destination.
He stated that the high taxation was perpetuated by both the national and county governments because both of them perceive the industry as an easy cash cow. He urged the government to explore ways of stimulating the industry instead of imposing oppressive levies against it.
Muli argued that lesser taxes would improve the business environment for the industry to thrive and attract more tourists because all top tourism destinations had a more friendly tax requirements.
“However, in the country the national and local governments are increasingly making it difficult for tourism business to operate profitably,” Muli noted.
He urged the Kenya Tourism Federation and regional bodies to lobby the government to reduce the exorbitant taxes.
By Veronica Bosibori