The Zanzibar tourism industry is dying

Although there are existing laws and policies that should protect tourism, the government does not enforce them, and this is slowly but surely killing Zanzibar as a tourism destination.

The Zanzibar tourism industry is dying

Although there are existing laws and policies that should protect tourism, the government does not enforce them, and this is slowly but surely killing Zanzibar as a tourism destination.

In other words: The economically important Zanzibar travel and tourism industry is dying.

Due to the global financial crisis, there has been a slow-down in arrivals – something the government has been warned about by tourism stakeholders. The way the government is dealing with this loss of revenue is to raise as well as create new taxes, leaving an already struggling tourism industry being financially strangled. Many tourism companies would have already filed for bankruptcy if not for their directors injecting funds into these companies just to keep them alive.

The Zanzibar government has imposed new airport taxes, new road taxes for tourism vehicles, additional VAT/levy tax on tourism vehicles, and toll taxes to reach certain villages from where some excursions are departing. This is all falling onto a small base of tax payers who have chosen to run their businesses as prescribed by the law.

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However, there are larger numbers of beach boys, unlicensed operators, and guest houses who are not tax registered, therefore, no taxes are being collected from their tourism activities. Many of these unlicensed operators are involved in the government, which may explain why there is no legal movement to enlarge the tax payer base and forcing these non-registered operators to legally register their businesses.

The licensed operators who are conducting business legally have no other choice but to increase prices for their services. This decreases value for the money for potential tourists, who will sooner before later choose other destinations for their holidays.

And this is just the tip of the iceberg. Zanzibar tourism is also dealing with issues of security and infrastructure – all quite contrary to the vision of the government of Zanzibar regarding tourism, “To become one of the top tourism destinations of the Indian Ocean, offering an up-market, high-quality product across the board,” as its Commission for Tourism website states.

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