Travel operators in Uganda are seeking a tax relief from the government to be able to thrive in business amidst the deadly Coronavirus. Its undeniable that tourism has been the most affected sector by the deadly Coronavirus. Yes, tourism in the whole world is on a standstill following travel restrictions in all countries across the world. It's unfortunate that all earlier booked trips especially for gorilla trekking have been postponed till unknown time while others have been totally cancelled. Worst of all, some travelers have gone ahead to seek for a refund which money travel operators had already used to book permits and accommodation. The current situation in the tourism industry has given travel operators tough times that some of them have called off all workers and shut business for the meantime. For that matter, travel operators through the association of Uganda travel operators (AUTO) and Uganda Tourism Association (UTA) have asked the Uganda revenue authority for a tax relief. All travels are currently on halt, and travel operators have no way of paying monthly taxes to the government as it has been.
The short break from taxes will help travel operators thrive in this no travel season. The Uganda Tourism Association submitted a request to the government of Uganda to adjourn all taxes on travel companies till when business resumes. The government should give travel operators liquidity to help them sustain their businesses in this time of no travels so as to promote sustainable/future tourism. Once business goes to normal, travel operators will pay their monkey and annual taxes without questions. More so, Uganda Tourism Association asked the government to give travel operators financial assistance in form of soft loans at low interests helping them to keep in business. The soft loans will help travel operators keep marketing their businesses online and facilitating some business expenditures.
Impact of Corona Virus on International Travel
The whole world is currently not traveling. Each country has closed the international airports and birders to be able to contain the deadly Covid19, which is basically spread through traveling. The idea of crossing flights and country borders was brought by the World Health Organization to curb the spread of Covid19 from one country to another. The whole world is likely to lose over 50% of travelers in 2020 following numerous cancellations and death to Corona Virus.
Impact of Corona Virus on Hotels
The fact that there is no travel without accommodation, hotels and lodge has not been left out. Corona Virus has led to the closure of most if not all hotels in Uganda and the whole of Africa. for that case, the hotel owners have been forced to layoff mots staff since its had to facilitate them in this no business time. Hoteliers through their umbrella, the Uganda Hotel Owners Association has asked the government to remove taxes and give them soft loans to help the, keep in business. Apparently any lodge or hotel found operating in Uganda is charged and stands risks of total closure by the government.
UTB targets 1.5 million travelers in 2020
Despite the cancellations and the threat of Corona Virus to tourism, Uganda tourism Board in cooperation with Uganda Tourism Association and the whole tourism fraternity still target to attract the earlier set 1.5 million travelers by the end the year 2020. Tourism has been the greatest contributor of foreign exchange in Uganda contributing over 50% of the country’s foreign exchange earning. A single gorilla permit in Uganda costs $700 for foreign on residents, $600 for foreign residents and UGX 250,000 for East African Residents. Park entrance fees for game viewing safaris in open savannah arks of Uganda are $40 valid for 24 hours. A chimpanzee permit in Kibale Forest National Park costs $220 which money goes to the government. In the last years, Uganda has achieved a steady increase in tourist arrivals especially to see mountain gorillas in Bwindi Forest/Mgahinga Gorilla National parks plus game safaris in the open savannah parks of Uganda. In order to promote the good image and safety of Uganda tourism to the whole world, the government will need to invest heavily in marketing Uganda tourism after Coronavirus. This will give future travelers the courage to visit Africa’s Pearl with no fear.
Conclusively, the need for tax relief for hoteliers and travel operators in Uganda and other countries across the world is vital in this time of Corona Virus. All responsible governments are called upon to scrap off taxes on travel companies and hoteliers to help them sustain business and be able to survive in business after Covid19.