ZIMBABWE Tourism Authority chief executive, Karikoga Kaseke has said fewer local and international investors have been taking up investments in the Tourism Development Zones (TDZ) due to economic constraints.
The TDZs are specific zones meant to provide incentives to attract tourists and prioritise them in the national tourism agenda.
“In the past 10 years, it [uptake of TDZs] has been very good, but I think it is because of the economic situation that we find ourselves in such a situation where very few people are taking up investments in the TDZ’s either local or international.
You must have money. You can get the exemption not to pay duty, but first of all you should have imported something,” Kaseke said on Friday.
“If you have not imported anything, how do you benefit from the exemptions? You must have the money, that is why we are pushing for a tourism revolving fund so that these players [local or international investors] can access cheap money at very good rates and import things that they will benefit from at the end of the day.”
He said ZTA would continue discussions with Treasury on the setting up of a revolving fund for the tourism industry. Discussions started when Patrick Chinamasa was in charge of Finance. Chinamasa was replaced by Ignatious Chombo in a Cabinet reshuffle last week
One of the major incentives of TDZs is that any player, local or foreign, operating in these zones will be exempted from paying corporate tax in the first five years of operations.
After th eexemption period, players would now be expected to pay 10% for the next five years followed by 15%.
Also, all imports for players under these zones are not subject to excise duty.
Kaseke said TDZs have been there for years and were not introduced in the Zimbabwe National Tourism Master Plan (ZNTMP).
“TDZs have been there and continue to be there. Yes, the ZNMTP is expanding TDZs and the areas should reach, but when one wants to expand you must then put legislation for them to be recognised so that is the duty of the ministry,” he said.
TDZs were the brainchild of former Tourism minister Walter Mzembi.
The ZNTMP, another initiative from Mzembi covering the 2016 to 2035 period, identified 11 areas as TDZs.
These TDZs are in Harare, Eastern Highlands, Chimanimani, Gonarezhou, Limpopo, Great Zimbabwe, Midlands, Bulawayo, Victoria Falls, Kariba and Mavhuradonha, which will act as areas of focus for attracting tourists.
Meanwhile, ZTA was recognised as the Best Enterprises in the field of tourism promotion, while Kaseke was named one of the Managers of the Year at the European Business Assembly awards.–newsday