Tanzania’s tourist tax on wooden carvings won’t last, says Minister for Tourism and Natural Resources Lazaro.
Speaking to a group of Maasai carvers and traders in Arusha at their market, which burned down last November, Nyalandu says the taxes are ruining the government’s attempts to increase tourism.
“Curios and handmade craft businesses have a close relationship with the development of tourism,” says Nyalandu, who also pledged financial support for the reconstruction of the curio market.
“This sub-sector employs a good number of people in the country, hence the need to handle it with care.”
The tourist tax levies a minimum charge of 68,400 TSH ($37 USD) often inexpensive wooden souvenirs purchased by tourists.
In a letter delivered to the Tanzania Association of Tour Operators (TATO) last month, Tanzania Forest Service’s Edgar Masunga warned that if fees were not paid, officials would seize carvings from tourists.
Tanzania Association of Tour Operators (TATO) CEO Sirili Akko says the tax ‘is an inconvenience’ and tour operators have been advising clients not to buy any wood products.
While preservation of forests is very important, Akko says the tax would not punish large scale forestry operations like logging and charcoal operations.
“This hurts the people in the villages making carvings with their talents and affects thousands of ordinary people,” says Akko.
Read more: Wood tax carves up tourist market