Hotel owners have asked the Speaker of Parliament, Rebecca Kadaga, to address the issue of double taxation in the industry.
The Chairperson Uganda Hotel Owners Association (UHOA), Susan Muhwezi, said that hotel proprietors pay over 15 types of taxes.
She noted that such multiple taxation is crippling the growth of the hotel and tourism sector.
“The VAT on upcountry hotels has been a big concern. Uganda is one of the most expensive tourism destinations compared to the neighboring countries,” said Muhwezi.
She was speaking during a breakfast meeting to open the Sixth Annual Uganda Hotels and Restaurants Expo at Hotel Africana on Wednesday, 5 September 2018.
Muhwezi noted that despite the challenges, the hotel and tourism sector is expanding, and has employed over 1.7 million Ugandans, majority of whom are women and youth.
“We have very many new hotels coming up; 86 hotels in the country are owned by locals. We have also registered international brand name,” said Muhwezi.
The Chairperson of the Board of Trustees of UHOA, Dr. B.M. Kibirige called on government to improve the Uganda Hotel and Tourism Training Institute in Jinja.
“Let us turn that Institute into a modern one so that our locals get good training and compete internationally,” said Kibirige.
He also urged Parliament to increase the budget of the tourism sector.
“Parliament should allocate more funds to the Uganda Tourism Board to enable effective marketing of Uganda,” said Kibirige.
The Minister for Tourism, Ephraim Kamuntu, revealed that government is working towards transforming the Tourism Training Institute into a center of excellence.
“We are currently financing infrastructure development of the training institute and looking for international partners to make it a modern one,” said Kamuntu.
Kadaga expressed disappointment with the Ministry of Finance, Planning and Economic Development, saying that it has developed policies, which discourage Ugandans from engaging in the hotel and tourism sector.
“The Ministry exempts tourism and hotel investments worth US$8 million from excise duty and yet very few Ugandans own such investments. This means majority of Ugandans are nowhere near the incentives,” Kadaga said.
She also asked hotel owners to enable ordinary Ugandans to benefit from tourism by charging affordable rates.
“In 2012, we were organizing a meeting of the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) and were trying to look at the rates of staying in a lodge. The cost was US$200 per night. How many Ugandans can afford that,” said Kadaga.
She pledged to address the issue of double taxation of hotel businesses.
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