Hotel and resort operators have expressed their dismay and disappointment with their county government over ongoing attempts to load yet more taxes and fees on their ailing businesses.
The Kilifi County in Kenya has risen to notoriety over plans to buy a palatial mansion for the county governor some time ago and affected hoteliers were less than amused over what one regular source called ‘trying to bleed us to financial death to finance the opulent lifestyle of county leaders gone out of control.
Garbage collection charges, over and above already existing fees, are proposed to hit hotels to the tune of up to US$300 US extra per month while added bed levies of 50 shillings per bed have been introduced for the 2014/15 budget of the county.
This comes on the back of over a dozen resorts in Kilifi closed for lack of business and those still open struggling to make ends meet with record low occupancies which hardly allowed paying recurrent expenses at the end of the month.
The Kenya Association of Hotel Keepers and Caterers Coast Branch and other tourism trade associations have strongly protested the planned measures and warned that the sector cannot sustain yet more charges from counties and central government or else may collapse altogether.
It is understood that the level of opposition has taken the county government by surprise, prompting a temporary suspension of the charges while ‘consulting’, in turn getting added feedback from tourism operators that there is in fact nothing to consult over but to scrap the plans for the new fees and levies.
Similar attempts to burden the tourism industry with yet higher cost were previously reported from Mombasa and Kwale counties, where equally the tourism industry stood up and collectively opposed what one source at the time said were extremely high and would lead to the closure of more businesses.