THE Livingstone Tourism Association has warned that price increases in tourism services is inevitable following the hike in fuel pump prices last week. LTA chairperson Alexander Muthali said tour operators and other service providers in the tourist town may consider adjusting prices of their products and services to cover the increase in the cost of fuel.
The Energy Regulation Board last Monday hiked the pump price of fuel, citing changes in two main variables that influence the price of the commodity. ERB board chairperson Raymond Mpundu on Monday stated that oil prices had increased on the international market whilst the kwacha had depreciated.
A litre of petrol now costs K13.75 from K12.97, representing a six per cent increment while diesel costs K12.01 from K11.09. Kerosene now costs K8.85 from K7.82 while low sulphur diesel is being sold at K14.30 from K13.38.
Commenting on the fuel price hike, Muthali said the government lacked a consultation mechanism before implementing decisions that affected the economic development of the country.
“We are not against fuel price increases but against the non-consultation with the stakeholders and the inconsistencies in government decisions. Fuel hinges on everything that has to do with the economy. Those in the tourism sector will have to increase prices, and us in the hospitality industry will also have to increase our rates so as not to subsidise our customers, it’s is a vicious cycle,”
He wondered how the domestic tourism would be promoted with the increase in fuel prices as most Zambians would find it difficult to embark on any tourism programme. Muthali, who is the immediate past Zambia Tourism Council chairperson, added that Zambia was making the tourism sector more expensive when the country was already viewed as an expensive destination.
“Our friends in Zimbabwe have made the area from Victoria Falls to the Kariba area a duty free zone while we are not thinking of doing the same but just increasing fuel without consultation. We have the Business Review Agency which is supposed to advise the government before any decision is taken in the business sector, but as it is now, the BRA is not working. May be it should be an independent body and not a government entity,”
“As at now, we find ourselves in a situation where we wake up and find that this has been increased without consultation. What we are saying is that we should know in advance that this is where we are heading so that we plan, but as at now, this is not helping.”