East Africa Bush Tails

Tanzania – important VAT Increase on safari services

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Our general advice to safari tourists is the following:

  • if you have already paid for a safari in Tanzania, it is likely that your tour operator will ask for an additional payment, due to recently introduced changes to Tanzania’s VAT laws. This isn’t the fault of your tour operator – these changes were imposed by the Tanzanian government.
  • the 18% VAT is now added to ground transportation, guiding fees, park fees, and camping fees (if applicable). Besides road transfers, water-based safaris and hot-air balloon landing fees also fall under ‘ground transportation’. Birdwatching falls under ‘guiding fees’, and ‘camping fees’ include both the normal camping fees and special camping fees that apply to tented camps. VAT also now applies to wildlife viewing packages offered by accommodations.
  • VAT is already charged on accommodation (hotels/lodges/camps), which normally make up a big part of your trip (meaning that it should have already been included in your original payment for your safari)
  • the VAT changes should not mean that you are going to be charged an additional 18% on your full trip price, unless you are going on a camping or Kilimanjaro tour
  • if you are asked to pay extra be sure and request a full breakdown on where and what you are paying. The additional cost may include the 18% VAT on park fees, transportations, guiding service and camping fees. It should not include other safari services.
  • please note that simultaneous to the introduction of new VAT charges, the Ngorongoro park fee was also increased $10 per person and an additional $50 per vehicle. Government imposed park fee increases are generally not included in the price that you’ve paid for your safari.

The short notice the Tanzanian government gave to the safari industry of its intended changes to VAT has shocked hundreds of tour operators. Thousands of clients have been hit with unexpected charges and park authorities haven’t had enough time to implement these changes and provide proper VAT receipts.

The main issue is not the introduction of new VAT charges, but the short notice the Tanzanian government gave ahead of the changes. If tour operators had been given 6 to 12 months’ notice that the government intended to make changes to the VAT, then the industry would have had sufficient time to adapt and increase their rates accordingly. This in turn would have given clients the opportunity to understand the full cost of their safari before booking.

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