National Democratic Congress (NDC) secretary general Mwenya Musenge says an NDC government will exempt tourists from Sales Tax in order to boost the tourism industry.

And Musenge says the NDC will restructure the Zambia National Tourism Board and adequately fund it to ensure that tourism potential is sufficiently marketed.

In NDC’s newsletter to News Diggers! Musenge noted that issues that needed to be addressed in Zambia’s tourism sector included: high taxes, poor infrastructure to support access to the tourist destination sites and lack of a marketing strategy.

He bemoaned that tourism in Zambia largely remained a preserve for foreigners and the rich, adding that to promote tourism in the country, NDC would reduce the bureaucracy associated with opening up business start-ups, among others.

“NDC will: (i) Identify and list economic activities that will be branded and identified as tourism activities for easy marketing; (ii) We will reduce red-tape and bureaucracy associated with opening up business start-ups and entrepreneur ventures in the tourism industries. By doing so, we will encourage entrepreneur ventures into local tourism and also strategies to enable Zambians venture into local tourism; (iii) We will also streamline taxation and registration in the tourism industry and revise downwards visa fees for visitors who come into our country for tourism purposes,” Musenge stated.

He added that an NDC administration would further identify areas and zones whose tourism potential had not been exploited due poor infrastructure, adding that businesses that set up tourism facilities in these areas would be given tax incentives.

And Musenge stated that NDC would also open up water-ways for tourism.

“We will open up our water-ways for tourism such as; the Zambezi River from North-Western Province to Livingstone and allow ferries to move along the rivers. This will enable various sites along the river to be developed into tourism sites. We will revisit all laws governing water fronts in favour of protecting locals living in those areas and enable access by both foreign and local tourists,” he explained.

Musenge observed that tourism in Zambia was still extremely expensive and rated as being for foreigners and the wealthy elite.

He, therefore, stated that to improve local tourism, NDC would remove the controversial Sales Tax whenever a local tourist accessed tourism services.

“We will remove Sales Tax whenever a local tourist accesses tourism services or pays for lodging, game drive, boat cruises and other activities identified as tourism activities in areas identified as tourism zones. We will also reduce taxes upon registration and ensure that the industry creates special rates for locals, SADC region, COMESA and international visitors,” Musenge pledged.

He stated that an NDC government would also give tax relief for tourist firms that attracted market and provided 35 per cent services identified as tourism services to Zambian citizens.

Meanwhile, Musenge stated that the NDC would also improve infrastructure by constructing air strips, roads and telecommunication infrastructure in areas designated as tourism zones.

He stated that their government would also restructure the Zambia National Tourism Board and adequately fund it to ensure that tourism potential was sufficiently marketed.

Musenge further stated that the NDC would cut bureaucracy that hindered Zambians and locals from obtaining hunting licenses and participating in game cropping.

“Game cropping and hunting licenses will be a preserve of Zambians and locals who will in-turn sell to foreigners and investors. The locals will be given 75 per cent of the value of all hunting concessions. This will go towards building schools, hospitals and social amenities in the local area. We will train and deploy all locals in national parks and game reserve areas as game scouts,” he added.

Musenge stated that the NDC would equally be giving rewards to locals that would help in curbing illegal poaching, a scourge that has ravaged the wildlife sector in Zambia.

“We will give rewards to locals who help to curb down illegal poaching. Proceeds of all illegal poaching will be given to locals. The highlighted reforms discussed will ensure a thriving tourism sector, competitive internationally and ensure access to our citizens and non-citizens. It will also ensure increased income generation for our local tourism entrepreneurs and government Treasury,” stated Musenge.