UPND Member of Parliament for Livingstone Matthews Jere says the high taxes in the tourism sector has had a negative effect on the social and econonic development of Livingstone as the country’s tourist hub.
And Hon Jere has demanded for the declaration of Livingstone as a tax free zone if it is to compete favourably with Victoria Falls town in terms of tourist arrivals.
Hon Jere said the taxes coupled with the movement of the provincial capital to Choma has drastically reduced the buying for most residents in the town while potential investors opt for Victoria Falls town in neighbouring Zimbabwe where the cost of doing business is bearable.
Jere told journalists this morning at the media briefing that high taxes are making the expenditure are scaring of potential investor.
“Zambia is losing out on investment to Zimbabwe where the investors and tourist find safe havens.The cost of doing business in the tourism sector is too high.Our Visa is still high as compared to Zimbabwe and the introduction of Uni-visa will further disadvantage Zambia until our policies are revisited”,he said.
He further bemoaned the failure by the PF to take advantage of the instability in neighbouring Zimbabwe to attract more tourist arrivals which have drastically reduced due to the high cost of bed space and other hospitality services.
” And now that stability is slowly returning to Zimbabwe with the fall of the Mugabe regime, expect the economy of Livingstone to completely go down.We are not just talking tourism.Agriculture will also be affected as most commercial white farmers are affected by the inconsistencies in policies under the PF.
We have advised this government to consider declaring Livingstone a tax-free zone as a way of redeeming the sector but that is falling on deaf ears”,said Hon Jere.
As a way forward, Hon Jere demanded for increased investment in infrastructure development such as s
Stadium and Convention Centre which will attract investment and high level meetings as a way of revamping the Hospitality industry.
He commended Livingstone residents for stopping the planned sell of Mukuni Park in Livingstone which he described as a Heritage site.
“Pressure from the people forced the government to abandon the idea. At the moment the council is in full control of the park.You might not be aware that Mukuni park has a historical importance as it served as the meeting and resting place for traditional leaders such as the Litunga of Barotseland during pre-independence and any attempts to sell it would have been a front against history”,Hon Jere revealed.