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Tax breaks, visa extensions among measures to prop up tourism

13 Jun 2020 By SHADDAD AL MUSALMY

The Ministry of Tourism has taken several measures to ease the burden on the tourism sector caused by the restrictions imposed due to the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

In a major reprieve for the hospitality industry, hotels have been exempted from paying tourism tax due from December 2019 to August 2020, the Ministry of Tourism has announced. 

The Ministry of Finance agreed to exempt the 4 per cent tourism tax payable during the period from 1 December 2019 to the end of August 2020. It will be collected from hotels after the market recovery, which is anticipated to be in the first quarter of 2021,” H E Ahmed bin Nasser al Mehrzi, Minister of Tourism said, adding that the measure would allow hotels to use the liquidity generated by this tax exemption to ease the impact of COVID-19 on the sector. 

The Ministry of Tourism and the Royal Oman Police have also decided to extend valid visas issued – but not used – from March 1 to August 31, 2020, till March 2021.

The minister said that the tourism sector was adversely impacted like other hard-hit sectors, but experience shows that this sector can recover fast. “It is too early to determine the actual economic impact of the lockdown caused by the pandemic, given that the winter tourist season in Oman lasts from September till April,” he said.

As part of its coordination with the Supreme Committee, the Ministry of Tourism has initiated a comprehensive report on expected economic impacts of the pandemic on the sector. The report, which gave an outline of general indicators, revenues and financial losses, also included recommendations submitted in April, including a package to boost certain sectors.

The minister pointed out that many tourism firms had agreed to receive tourist delegations before the coronavirus outbreak and that they had paid the visas fees and other fees. “Therefore, the fees paid to the departments concerned, including the Royal Oman Police, will be substituted or reused,” he said.

 

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