By Daniel Chigundu
TOURISM and Hospitality Industry Minister Prisca Mupfumira has warned unregistered tourism players that they have up to end of March this year to regularise their ventures or face the wrath of law.
According to the Tourism Act all businesses in the tourism sector or offering tourism related services are required to register with the Zimbabwe Tourism Authority (ZTA).
However, in a bid to escape the 2% Tourism Levy that registered operators pay to ZTA, many people have resorted to operating restaurants, catering services and car-hire services under the radar.
Others who got a raw deal in 2010 when they failed to benefit from the Fifa World Cup hosted in South Africa as was anticipated are also still offering guest-house services as they try to recoup their investments.
Addressing delegates at a briefing meeting with tourism stakeholders on the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe Tourism Support Facility, Minister Mupfumira said it was disappointing because the unregistered operators are giving unfair competition to those registered.
“It is disheartening to note that there are a number of operators who are illegally operating and offering tourism services in contravention of the Tourism Act Chapter 14:20 of 1996. Such players are offering unfair competition to genuine tourism operators and are defrauding government of revenue.
“I therefore wish to encourage and persuade all such unregistered operators to ensure they register their tourism businesses between now and the end of March 2018.
“Thereafter, I direct the ZTA in conjunction with relevant arms of the law to undertake a blitz on all unregistered operators. We need to restore order and sanity in the tourism sector and I urge concerned parties to take heed of this moratorium that I have issued,” she said.
Meanwhile, Minister Mupfumira has said her ministry will ensure that the country derives maximum benefits from the Tourism Support Facility and that only registered players will access the facility.
“…as government we will ensure that no unregistered operator benefits from this facility. It should benefit only those operators duly registered by the ZTA.
“This gesture by government to avail such a facility provides industry with the necessary facilitation to grow the tourism cake and ensure we generate more employment for our populace,” said the Minister.
This is not the first time that the Tourism Ministry has warned unregistered operators, as former Minister Walter Mzembi also threatened the same blitz which however never came to pass.
Mzembi had however targeted churches that own prayer houses, transport fleets and Prayer Mountains that they should pay tourism levy.