HOTELS this week surrendered to the National Incomes and Pricing Commission (NIPC) demands to give government and local authorities a discount on accommodation rates. The special discount which is effective from next Monday will mean that government and local authorities will pay half of what the general public and other private business will pay for accommodation.
For instance while a single room at a five start hotel costs $800 million, government and local authorities will pay only $400 million.
The 50% discount will apply to all city and resort hotels. The discount will also be applied to statutory bodies but not parastatals.
The NIPC claims that it consulted hotel operators about the discount.
However hotel operators said they were not consulted. They said they only agreed to the new pricing arrangement because they feared that government will crack down on the tourism sector.
“We just had to give in because we could see that the plan was to arrest some people,” said a manager with a local hotel group.
NIPC chairman, Godwills Masimirembwa, told tourism players who attended a meeting this week that government officials deserve a
discount because they are on national duty.
“There are people who go into hotels not to enjoy but because it is necessary to get accommodation while on duty. Those on business and those on leisure should be charged differently,” Masimirembwa said.
There are fears that the directive could cause more problems and distortions in the sector. The system is open to abuse.
“How do you look at a potential guest and determine whether they are on business or on leisure, before they even check in,” asked one hotel operator. “Likewise, how do you tell whether a government official is on business? This facility will be abused and the losers will be us.”