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Mombasa tourism players in double taxation fears over new Bill

Mombasa County Governor Ali Hassan Joho. FILE PHOTO | NMG
Mombasa County Governor Ali Hassan Joho. FILE PHOTO | NMG  

Tourism players have asked the Mombasa County government to scrap the proposed Local Tourism Fund (LTF) in order to spare them the headache of over-taxation.

Through the the Mombasa County Local Tourism Bill 2017, the devolved unit has proposed the establishment of LTF which will collect levies and fees from players in the industry.

The Bill proposes that revenues collected be used to develop the county's tourism sector.

However, Kenya Association of Hotelkeepers and Caterers (KAHC) Coast branch executive officer Sam Ikwaye said the County should delete the provision creating the Local Tourism Fund from the proposed legislation.

Clash in law

He said Part 4 of the Bill should be be scrapped in its entirety as it clashes with the National Tourism Act of 2011, which under Section 105 established the Tourism Fund - a body mandated to collect a levy meant to finance the development of tourism products and services.

Levies collected by the Tourism Fund also go towards financing marketing of the country through the Kenya Tourism Board (KTB) as well as training and capacity development activities done by the Kenya Utalii College and other students of the hospitality industry.

“We are against Mombasa County government’s plan to establish a Local Tourism Fund because its mandate and roles are similar to those of the Tourism Fund,” Mr Ikwaye said on Tuesday in Mombasa.

The KAHC official warned that the establishment of a similar body by Mombasa County would overburden taxpayers in the sector.

“Part 4 of the bill has the potential to increase the cost of doing business as the county proposes to charge levies and fees from the local tourism businesses,” he said.

Kenya Tourism Federation chairman Mohamed Hersi also called on the Hassan Joho-led government to withdraw the provision creating the body, saying players in Mombasa already contribute to the Tourism Fund.

“It should be noted that tourism businesses are already overburdened by taxation. Any move by the county to impose more levies through the local tourism fund will make Mombasa a hostile business environment,” he warned.

Present views

Mr Hersi, who is also the Heritage Hotels chief executive officer, called on the county's bosses to seek more funds from the national government rather than introducing new levies and fees.

When reached for comment, Mombasa County Tourism executive, Binti Omar, called on tourism stakeholders to present their views at a public participation meeting to be held soon.

“The County Local Tourism Bill is still open to public participation. Therefore, I call on the private sector to present their opinions and the County will find ways of addressing the matter,” she said.

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