By Daniel Chigundu
GOVERNMENT says all operators of unregistered tourism and hospitality industry services must be registered to enable effective planning for the lucrative sector.
In an effort to cushion themselves from the obtaining economic difficulties currently being experienced in the country, some people have converted their houses into lodges, opened restaurants or are offering catering services while others are operating unregistered car hire services.
However, in terms of the Tourism Act of 1996 Chapter 14:20 section 36 all designated tourism facilities are required to be registered with the Zimbabwe Tourism Authority (ZTA).
According to the same Act, no person shall conduct or operate a designated tourist facility unless it is so registered or graded by the Authority
Addressing delegates at Sanganai/Hlanganani where he revealed massive plans for the tourism sector, Finance Minister Patrick Chinamasa said if all players in the sector are registered it will go a long way in determining what incentives government can give to them.
“I was emphasizing to my colleague (Minister Walter Mzembi), the imperative to register all the people who are in the industry, all the lodges, everybody who is a player in the sector to be registered.
“It’s very good for planning, it’s also very good whenever we want to consider what incentives to give, it would be very good to know players we are targeting,” he said.
Chinamasa’s statement resonates with what ZTA chief executive Dr Karikoga Kaseke said last year where he even threatened to crack the whip on the unregistered operators.
“The ZTA has noted with grave concern, the mushrooming of entities that are running unregistered tourism operations such as car hire, provision of accommodation, restaurants, travel agencies and tour operations.
“In terms of the Tourism Act of 1996, no person shall conduct or operate a designated tourist facility unless it is so registered or graded by the Authority.
“All unregistered tourist facilities and operations including car hire companies are therefore instructed to immediately close their operations until they regularise their businesses in accordance with the provisions of the aforesaid Act,” said Dr Kaseke.
Tourism and Hospitality Industry Minister Walter Mzembi is also on record saying there are a lot of organisations including churches that are offering tourism services but are not registered and are not even paying the mandatory 2 percent, Tourism Levy.
Some churches such as UFIC and PHD have built their own accommodation lodges and guest houses, while others boast of various prayer mountains where people can go and worship their God from.
According to the tourism minister, all these facilities including church buses that carry people during church programs must register and pay tax to the government as they are indirectly playing a part in the country’s tourism sector.
“Firstly, from the buses and cars that they use to transport people, those should be registered and ensure that all cars that are extending hire services to the public should pay the intended taxes. We realise that they also ferry people using their buses, but they forget that once they start doing that, they are already in our books in terms of remitting taxes.
“For those who go and stay in the lodges, they need to pay and those who have built their own accommodation also need to register what they have built,” Mzembi said.