THE government is putting measures in place to embark on an intensive research to find out the impact of the new imposed Value Added Tax (VAT) in tourism services, the National Assembly was told here yesterday.
Deputy Minister for Natural Resources and Tourism, Japhet Hasunga, unveiled the plan when responding to a supplementary question posed by Chambani MP Yusuph Hussen (CUF), who sought to know whether the government was planning to annul VAT in tourism.
In his question, the MP claimed that since its ratification, the VAT in tourism has brought a number of impacts, including chasing away tourists.
According to him, in 2016, the government blessed the VAT on tourism services amid criticism from key stakeholders, that the move would affect the tourism sector in the country.
The lawmaker's claim also was supported by the Speaker of the National Assembly, who advised that if the government was working to conduct a special study on the VAT, it should also ensure that private firms in the sector also cut down their service expenses.
In the basic question, CUF- Special Seats MP, Ester Mahawe queried why expenses to climb Mountain Kilimanjaro were almost double compared to the expenses charged in Mount Kenya.
"Is the government doing any review to reduce the expenses to climb Mount Kilimanjaro as the situation is chasing away a good number of tourists, thus denying the country its revenues?" she queried.
Responding, Mr Hasunga said that climbing Mount Kilimanjaro takes at least six days at a cost of around $684.4 VAT inclusive, while climbing Mount Kenya the expenses range at US Dollars 460.
According to him, the expenses to climbing Mount Kilimanjaro were bigger due to the uniqueness of features that the mountain has.
"Beauty and uniqueness features which Mount Kilimanjaro has cannot be compared to those of Mount Kenya, so it is obvious that their service expenses should differ," he said.
He said that climbing lanes of Mount Kilimanjaro are more improved and clear to enable someone to reach to the peak without need of much assistance, something which cannot be found in Mount Kenya.
The deputy minister further said that in the year 2017/18, Mount Kilimanjaro served at least 51,852 tourists who injected a total of 76.16bn/- as revenues.
However, Mr Hasunga added that the government was planning to meet with key stakeholders in the area and see the possibility of reducing the expenses to climb Mount Kilimanjaro.
Mount Kilimanjaro is the tallest mountain on the African continent and the highest free-standing mountain in the world.