By Apolinari Tairo
Tanzania announced a security levy on air passengers, which businesses warn is likely to affect tourist numbers.
The new levy, which takes effect on October 1, is meant to help improve airport security installations and safety services including perimeter fences and scanning machines.
Tanzania Airports Authority director-general Richard Mayongela said foreign travellers boarding aircraft at major airports in the country will pay $5 while those on domestic flights will pay $2.
“The security levy is targeted at enhancing the development of airport infrastructure, and stabilising and strengthening the safety of our airports,” said Mr Mayongela.
However, airline executives say the new levy will make air transport in the country expensive, adding that several taxes and fees are already being charged. They fear it may scare away potential customers.
The current departure tax for domestic flights is Tsh13,000 ($5.7) while international departure tax is Tsh112,101 ($49) per passenger.
Alexander Van de Wint, a KLM official in Dar es Salaam, said airlines had sold tickets for up to the end of the year and asked the government to postpone the levy until January 2019.
Chief executive officer of the Tanzania Association of Tour Operators Sirili Akko told The EastAfrican that the levy “works against the government’s goal of increasing the number of tourists.”
M Akko said a reduction, if not abolition of all the fees, levies and taxes on auxiliary services in the tourism sector would have maximised returns from the country’s tourism and wildlife sector.
Tourism is Tanzania’s leading foreign exchange earner and a key economic sector.
The economy earned Tsh4 trillion ($2 billion) from the sector last year, according to the Tanzania Tourist Board.
This surpassed earnings from gold, which brought in Tsh3 billion ($1.28 billion) in the same period.