Departure tax for tourists on cards

21 Apr 2016 14:20pm
WINDHOEK, 21 APR (NAMPA) – A departure tax for tourists should be instituted to support marketing by the Namibia Tourism Board (NTB) for Namibia as a whole.
This proposal was published in the National Sustainable Tourism Growth and Development Strategy 2016-2026 tabled by Deputy Minister of Environment and Tourism Tommy Nambahu in the National Assembly on Wednesday.
The report said the Ministry of Environment and Tourism in partnership with relevant line ministries and stakeholders must commission a study on the feasibility, practicality and implications and unintended consequences of the proposal to establish a departure tax - a fee charged by a country when a person is leaving the country.
“The study must also consider all tourism-related taxes such as taxes on air tickets in terms of their feasibility and contribution to tourism development and growth and whether they are a barrier or an incentive. The study must contain recommendations for action,” the report said.
Funds derived from the departure tax are also to be used for support programmes, mentorship and partnerships with larger operations, and for funding marketing efforts for emerging tourism entrepreneurs. Such funds should not be used for training since the training levy is already established for that purpose, nor should they be used for any direct commercial enterprises.
The report suggested that MET should identify the entities that will collect, audit and ultimately pay over the funds collected from the proposed tax and to which organisation or account it should be transferred.
It is also essential that the funds raised augment the regular budget of MET, rather than replace it. Equally, tax must never be a ‘cash cow’ as it can kill an already overpriced Namibian tourism product offering, the report said.
Under the key actions of the strategy, it was suggested that MET should use non-traditional sources to find alternative funds for MET, Namibia Wildlife Resort (NWR) and the Namibia Tourism Board (NTB) in addition to increasing requests through the normal budget process.
“There is a serious need to develop innovative funding mechanisms from both the public and private financial institutions to assist individuals who would like to enter the tourism sector as emerging tourism entrepreneurs. Given the prominence of tourism as outlined in the fourth National Development Plan, consideration should be given to establishing a tourism financing facility in the form of a national tourism bank similar to the Agricultural Bank of Namibia,” it stressed.
About 30 countries including Egypt, China and German charge a departure tax.