The recent increases in electricity bills, taxes, and levies have been lamented by the Ghana Hotels Association (GHA), which claims that “they are incredibly crippling the hospitality industry.”
The government could have assisted the hotel sector in recovering more quickly from the COVID-19 epidemic, but instead it hit it with high taxes, notably property rates, which the Association claimed had made matters worse.
The property rate system now being applied by the Ghana Revenue Authority, according to Mr. Isaac Nkoom, the most recent Central Regional Chairman of the GHA, has become a “killer to the sector’s rebound.”
“How could a facility that pays a property rate of GH¢700 suddenly rise to GH¢20,000 or from GH¢1,800 to GH¢50,000? We are not against the increase and the collection by GRA, but we are against the astronomical increases killing our businesses,” he said.
“We do not know how they arrived at those sharp increases and, as far as we remain stakeholders, we expected some consultations on operational modalities before implementation.”
“This must certainly change for our mutual gain. The entire arrangement appears we are being punished for owning businesses because the rates do not reflect the reality of our business.”
Mr Nkoom was speaking at the Fourth National Executive Council Meeting of the GHA at the Elmina Beach Hotel on Friday, on the theme: “Sustaining the Hotel Industry in Ghana – Post-COVID-19 Pandemic.”
In order to discuss issues affecting the industry and the best ways to address them, it brought together national and regional executives of the GHA and important stakeholders, such as metropolitan, municipal, and district assemblies, the Ghana Tourism Authority, the Ghana National Fire Service, and the Food and Drugs Authority.
Mr Nkoom said the challenges had also been exacerbated by 20 multiple and duplicate taxes and levies, which were “suffocating the growth of the sector.”
“These include the NHIL, VAT, GETfund, COVID-19 levy, GTA levy, EPA Levy, FDA levy, MMDAs levy, Fire Service levy, and one percent tourism levy.”
“Others are SSNIT for staff, data protection levy, property rates, suitability report levy, and GHAMRO levy, all of which contribute to the pricing mechanisms.”
He expressed sadness over the burden such taxes had on business owners in the sector and said that the GHA was forced to pay all taxes due in addition to the price of upkeep, utilities, and salary payments.
He pleaded with the government to take into account the decrease in VAT fees since the hotel industry was gradually coming to a standstill as a result of extremely low patronage brought on by the economic downturn.
He asked the government to lower the regulatory costs that hotels must pay in order to avoid negative effects on job losses and the viability of businesses. In order to assure cooperation as it mapped out a shared strategy for controlling their activities to enhance operations, he urged hotel owners who had not yet signed up with the Association to do so.
Mr Kwame Gyasi, the Central Regional Director, Ghana Tourism Authority, advised hotel operators to invest more into customer service to grow the country’s tourism industry.
“Although the country had over the years been touted as a very hospitable destination, often, many hotels had issues with customer service, he noted.
“So I want to urge management to take service delivery as critical and add value to the services rendered by organising a lot of training, do right recruitment and coordination with other agencies and institutions in the value-chain.”
“We share your pain, we understand your challenges, and we are with you in these difficult moments as we work for the best solutions.”