Registered hotels and guest houses with the National Tourist Board in Freetown have expressed disappointment and frustration over the low income generated from tourist and investors, due to the poor transportation facilities at Lungi and the exorbitant bed fees levied on customers visiting Sierra Leone.
This was disclosed this week at the Miatta Conference Center in Freetown, during a meeting organized by the National Revenue Authority (NRA) and a cross section of managers and operators of hotels and guest houses in Freetown to discuss relevant issues affecting the tourist industry and the planned NRA increment on bed tax for hotels.
Mr. Femi Hebron of the Cabenda hotel expressed grave concern and disappointment over the present status of the tourist industry which is crumbling and many hotels have been going without visitors from abroad for a very long time now.
He noted that, some of the hotels in Freetown are of International Standards and the facilities can be compared to any in the Sub -Region but they are yet to receive clients from abroad to boost their running cost and also enable them make profits.
He however lamented, about the huge debt incurred by government to some hotels in Freetown, and complained about the non payments of government debts coupled with the exorbitant taxes levied on hoteliers and the running cost and maintenance of hotel facilities, “it is some time very difficult to run a hotel in Sierra Leone” he lamented.
The hoteliers also complained about the inconsistence of the electricity supply in some parts of the city, which gives extra financial burden on hoteliers using a stand by generator to maintain customers and the facilities.
They also complained that, some of their customers have not been cooperating with the NRA tax being paid per bed on a different form adding that sometimes it is very difficult to convince customers to pay particularly visiting United Nations Staff and other investors.
According to the hoteliers investors and tourist are not comfortable with the transportation facilities from Lungi to Freetown as the single ferry terminal service lies in a deplorable status and other basic infrastructures in Freetown and other parts of the country which is responsible for the drastic reduction of visitors
Amadu Kargbo is also another hotelier from the East End of the city who complained about the poor water and electricity supply in that part of the city despite the prompt payment of NRA and City Council taxes to the government, they are yet to receive basic services.
The cross section of hoteliers who attended the meeting commended the tourist board for their good working relationship and also looked forward to a similar understanding with the NRA as they prepare to collect taxes.
Concluding the hoteliers appealed to government through the tourist board to patronize with all hoteliers and show understanding that the business is not booming presently and that government needs to improve on the facilities at Lungi and also reduce the 10% increment on bed taxes which they predict will lead to the crumbling of hotels and the tourist industry in the country.
Deputy Commissioner General of the NRA Ibrahim Sorie assured hoteliers of his fullest commitment to collect taxes and promised to work with them to improve the tourist industry for the rapid development of the country.