Thousands of tourists are canceling their visits to Tanzania as the newly introduced VAT (value added tax) on tourism services comes into effect.
News agency Deutsche Welle (DW) reports that about 8,000 tourists have called off their vacations so far.
The tax, which comes into effect on July 1, is reported to have already cost the Ngorongoro conservation area $660,000 USD in lost revenue.
The 18 percent tax is being levied on previously exempt tourism services including park fees, ground transport services, tourist guiding, game driving, and bird watching.
Under the new tax, tourists will pay up to 25 percent more than what other East African countries charge, says the EastAfrican newspaper.
Some tourists have already decried the decision online, calling it ‘ridiculous’, ‘crazy’, and ‘stupid.’
Finance Minister Philip Mpango is quoted in the East African Business Week defending the tax, saying ‘VAT charges are not a major aspect in tourists when making decision on the destination.’
“If 18 percent is not a big deal why don’t [lawmakers] cut their own salaries and budgets by only 18 percent,” asks one commenter on travel website TripAdvisor.