Calls for lower visa and jet fuel tax charges in this Covid-19
Tour operators want the government to reduce visa fees for foreign arrivals, jet fuel tax and airport landing fees to breathe life back to the tourism industry as Covid-19 bites
Marketing of tourism products alone, they say, will not achieve much, adding that before the Coronavirus epidemic, it was expensive for airlines and tourists to visit Kenya.
Earlier, the State committed Sh500 million to market the country post Covid-19.
However last weekend, President Uhuru Kenyatta promised Sh5.9 billion to the tourism sector as windfall from a Sh54 billion economic rescue package for eight sectors as support to battle Covid-19.
Of this amount, Sh3billion is allocated as soft loans for hotel renovations via the Tourism Finance Corporation.
A combined Sh2 billion will be channelled as grants to 160 community conservancies and the engagement 5,500 community scouts for an year by the Kenya Wildlife Service.
Moreover, Sh874 million is earmarked as a marketing fund to the Kenya Tourism Fund (KTB).
While appreciating the gesture, Patrick Wanjohi, the managing director of Into Africa Eco Travel Company said the processes of acquiring visas remains long and tedious.
He also wondered why jet fuel charges are still high despite falls in the international market.
“Fees and taxes levied on the industry are too high compared to South Africa, Botswana, Tanzania and Zanzibar.
For Kenya to compete with other destinations after the pandemic, it should reduce them. Most airlines prefer fuelling out of the county because of the high prices locally,” he said.
“We have for many years pleaded with the State to do something about it but it has not acted.
That and other taxes stand in the way of the expansion of the number of tourists who annually visit the country,” he told TravelWise.
To open hotels in all tourist attractions after Covid-19, proprietors should be given tax holidays for more than two years when markets are expected to stabilise, he added.
Meanwhile, Nick Murero, the Mara-Serengeti Ecosystem Coordinator for Lake Victoria Basin says Dar-es-saalam and Kilimanjaro airports are busy receiving visitors, adding that tourism in Tanzania has not been much disrupted by the disease.