FOREIGN tourists, who must shell out $30 to get to see the Victoria Falls on the Zimbabwe side, will now have to give the local authority a dollar each to help the council pay off government debt.
In news likely to worry the local tourism industry, the town council has confirmed it would introduce a levy to be charged on individual tourists to help pay off debts.
According to online news Agency The Source, the local authority owes the government about $4 million for refurbishing infrastructure ahead of the World Tourism Organisation's 20th General Assembly held in the town last year.
In addition, the council also owes the Zimbabwe Revenue Authority (Zimra), Zimbabwe National Water Authority (Zinwa) its pension fund and other utilities over $6 million.
Town clerk Christopher Dube told The Source council would introduce a tourism tax -- a dollar for every foreign visitor to the resort town -- despite opposition from tour operators.
"The supplementary budget is going to see some major increases in rates and service for the industry," said Dube.
"We owe the government $4 million which we got as a loan to rehabilitate infrastructure... We are failing to repay that loan.
Operators last week said they were not going to support the tolling of tourists.
“If these operators are not supporting the tolling of tourists, they will have to fork out that money from their coffers. We are going ahead with the project. We need to raise revenue from somewhere,” Dube said.
Meanwhile, Dube said council recently passed a resolution barring the hiring of external debt collectors after residents cried foul over the move. “We are now going to come up with an internal debt collecting system. But we call upon residents to bear with us and pay even the little they have to settle their bills. A lot of companies and residents continue to default on paying rates, threatening service delivery,” he said.
A government directive last year saw councils across the country scraping residents’ debts – a move that has resulted in them experiencing serious cashflow problems.
Source: Victoria Falls Council to Tax Individual Tourists - AllAfrica (3/6/14)