FINANCE minister Patrick Chinamasa’s proposal to introduce duty free rebate for capital equipment and vehicles for tour operators has been described as too restrictive for players who want to move on with the times.
The provision only applies to off -road 4×4 vehicles which are used in game drives as prescribed by the Zimbabwe Tourism Authority.
Tourism players said it excludes luxury vehicles used to shuttle tourists on roads to and from airports and hotels.
Other equipment such as helicopters and their components were also not covered by the rebate.
Presenting the 2014 national budget last week, Chinamasa extended the facility by 12 months beginning January 1 after its expiry in August this year.
However, there was a mixed reaction to the announcement by tour operators with some calling for a rebate to be extended to luxury vehicles used in the industry.
Clement Mukwasi, president of the Employers’ Association of Tourism and Safari Operators and Shearwater Adventures group public relations said the rebate was welcome, but should be broadened to cover other vehicles.
“The services we are offering now are different from those which we used to offer 10 years ago, as we are also now using Mercedes-Benz to shuttle tourists to and from the airport,” he said.
“These vehicles should also be included in the facility..
“The facility is welcome, but I feel it’s restrictive.
“In Victoria Falls we also have helicopters. They should also be included in the facility as components cost as much as $100 per set.”
Langton Masunda, an executive member of Gwayi Conservancy said the facility would help recapitalise tour operators so that they could offer world-class service to tourists.
“With the influx of tourists in the country, we need to buy new vehicles to replace our ageing fleet hence the facility has come at the right time,” he said.
“We should not compromise services, so in my view it’s a very noble idea.
“It also motivates tour operators to market their products more vigorously and provide world-class service to our visiting tourists.”
Zimbabwe, especially the resort town of Victoria Falls, has been recording an increase in international tourist arrivals
since successfully hosting the United Nations World Tourism Organisation general assembly in August.