Botswana exempts SADC citizens from tourism levy
By Mpho Tebele
GABORONE – All visitors to Botswana, excluding residents and citizens of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) member states, will pay a tourism levy.
It has emerged that the Botswana government has proceeded to introduce the Tourism Development Levy (TDL) despite resistance from the hospitality and tourism sector that resulted in its withdrawal last year.
The Ministry of Environment, Natural Resources Conservation and Tourism, through the Botswana Tourism Organisation (BTO) this week announced that it was introducing the levy to raise funds for conservation and national tourism development.
“Effective June this year, all non-SADC visitors entering Botswana will be required to pay $30 tourism levy at the point of entry. The levy is purposed to support the growth of the industry and broaden the tourism base, reluctantly improving the lives of the people of Botswana,” reads a statement from BTO.
Last year Dr Thapelo Matsheka, chairman of the Hospitality and Tourism Association of Botswana (HATAB) told a stakeholders conference held in the north western tourism resort town of Maun that they were opposed to the proposed levy.
Matsheka reportedly complained that the association was not consulted on the proposed levy and the new exhibition fees.
“There is an emergence of new issues which are result of lack of consultation with HATAB and other stakeholders,” he was quoted as saying.
Matsheka’s harsh words apparently drove a point home as a presentation on the levy was pulled off.
The Tourism Statistics Annual Report for 2015 shows that from the 1,661 million visitors who entered Botswana in that year, 11.4 percent (190,000) were from Non-SADC countries.
A back of the envelope calculation shows that at $30 per person government is likely to accrue around $5,7 million (P60 million) per annum through the levy.
According to BTO, Non-SADC visitors can pay the levy at the point of entry through electronic payment machines, cash, debit or credit card.
“After payment, a special receipt corresponding to the passport will be automatically generated. The receipt should then be presented to immigration officials and the passport and receipt will then be handed to the traveller.
“The receipt is valid for a 30 days period and can be used for multiple entries. The funds will be used to develop more tourism products,” BTO said.
Tourism is Botswana’s second largest foreign exchange earner and contributes significantly to employment and economic growth.
The statement says that payments shall be done at the ports of entry through electronic payment machines through cash, debit and credit card.
“After the payment, a unique receipt corresponding to the passport will be automatically generated. The receipt should then be presented to Immigration Officials. The passport and the receipt will be stamped and handed back to the traveller. The receipt will valid for a 30 day period and can be used for multiple entry,” reads the statement.
The government says it remains committed to growing the contribution of tourism to the national economy as well as economic diversification and employment creation.