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Union seeks stable tax regime to boost tourism business

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Tax. Photo: ASEAN

A stable tax regime will encourage the private sector to participate in the tourism industry, the General Secretary of National Union of Hotels and Personal Services Workers (NUHPSW), Leke Success, has said.

Speaking with The Guardian in Abuja, Success explained that while the hospitality sub-sector is dominated by the private sector, there is a near-absence of the sub-sector in the tourism industry owing to the neglect of most tourism centres in the country.

He maintained that a stable tax regime will guarantee long-term investment, saying: “Government must engender a taxation regime that encourages investment in the tourism and hospitality sector. As presently configured, the tax regime in Nigeria does not encourage investment in the sector. It is common knowledge that investment in tourism is a long term one that requires tax regime stability as well as friendly fiscal policies. Therefore, the government must give assurance of tax holidays to investors for a number of years before paying relevant taxes that should be spelt out from the beginning. This will give confidence to investors that the government is not only serious but willing to be transparent.”

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He urged the government to offset liabilities most tourist centres are grappling with for investors to be interested in taking over such entities.

“To invest in the tourism sector, many factors have to be looked into. Chief amongst the factors that must be considered whether it is national parks or national reserves where there are zoos that will attract tourists, the infrastructure must be upgraded by the government and pay off liabilities that such entities are owing before investors can be invited to invest in such tourist attractions,” he explained.

He added that closely related to the dilapidating state of most tourism sites in the country is the challenge posed by insecurity and bad roads.

He explained that while insecurity limit where tourists could assess, bad roads also make movement almost impossible in most parts of the country.

He continued: “There are tourist centres that cannot be assessed because of insecurity. There is serious work to be done in that regards. I am sure the private sector will be willing to partner with the government to boost tourism in Nigeria if the issue of insecurity is tackled. Also, the government must ensure adequate security is provided to guarantee the safety of tourists.”

He therefore urged the government to extend intervention such as the one granted textile industry to revive the hospitality business.

His words: “My union has been reiterating this point at every opportunity that our industry has the capacity to employ a large chunk of unemployed youths. Going forward I am believing that amongst various interventions that the government will be considering in 2020, we are in high hope that our sector will be part of those that will be under consideration.

Specifically, we expect the government to rescue the dilapidating facilities in the sector, rebranding them and upgrade the facilities up to date because the cost of operation is becoming unbearable especially the cost of energy which our industry relies on to operate. Indeed, running on diesel is not cost-effective at all and all of that contribute to high costs of operation which are ultimately borne by our customers.”

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