‘Sound out hospitality levy’

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iol travel may 11 durban rickshaw INDEPENDENT NEWSPAPERS The Mother City was followed by Durban, pictured.

Durban - The proposed KwaZulu-Natal hospitality levy is a complex subject which needs to be thoroughly interrogated by all concerned.

Umhlanga Tourism chairman, Peter Rose, commented on a proposal that industry players should pay a 10 percent levy to the government.

The money is intended to ease the burden on local government, which was picking up the tab for attracting big events and conferences.

Rose, who is also a guest-house owner, said the government needed to put its cards on the table so all could understand how much would be spent and on what.

The Economic Development, Tourism and Environmental Affairs Department plans to introduce the levy from April 1 next year.

“There is lack of accountability in government at the moment, both provincially and nationally.

“If the industry (hospitality) is to contribute in the form of this proposed levy, then the government must put the cards on the table.”

MEC Mike Mabuyakhulu said in his budget speech at the provincial legislature last Friday spin-offs that accrue to the province’s economy from hosting big events was the result of bidding by the government.

Mabuyakhulu did not explain how the levy would be calculated or collected. He said stakeholders would meet to discuss the matter next month.

Big events

He said big events stimulated networking among professionals. Between 20 and 40 percent of delegates who visited the city for conference became “brand ambassadors” and returned as leisure tourists with their families and friends.

“Based on this, there’s a need for the establishment of a business-events bid and support fund to support the activities of the KZN Convention Bureau who go out to canvas for, and attract these events to our province.”

Mabuyakhulu said the process was still at an engagement stage and role-players’ views still had to be canvassed.

His spokesman, Bheko Madlala, said government had in the past been required to foot the bill when hosting high-profile business and entertainment events. But the local hospitality sector reaped the immediate rewards of accommodating visitors.

Rose said although both parties had not gone through the pros and cons of how the levy would work, the percentage proposed was way too high.

“We have thousands of restaurants in the province. There are hotels and guest houses, so where do we draw the line? Cleaning detergents, food supply and all other necessary agents needed to operate in the industry come at a price. This means that we pay suppliers to accommodate our guests. Now, who is benefiting from the industry?

“Many people… not only a hotel owner… are involved in the business… all the suppliers are involved. So where do we draw the line with regards to who pays what? I think this 10 percent is a lot of money to ask for from the industry.”

Umhlanga-based National Accommodation Association of South Africa vice-president, Heather Hunter, said she could not comment at this stage.

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