Tanzania Imposes Fees On Holiday Souvenirs

If you’ve ever been on vacation and have wanted to commemorate the trip with a number of souvenir items, a recent ordinance in the East African nation of Tanzania may give you pause to do so.

The country’s government has just made the announcement that it intends to collect fees from all tourists who visit and purchase souvenirs. This tariff will primarily be applied to wood carvings that are sold throughout the country. The fee is set to be collected by customs officials when travelers are departing Tanzania. Subsequently, there will be a two-step process to the fee that includes an inspection certificate fee and an export permit certificate fee. For wood carving purchases that total US$300 and below, the inspection fee will be US$16 and the export fee will be US$21. For all wood carving purchases above US$300, the inspection fee and the export certificate fee will cost you US$70. In addition, there’s also a royalty fee that is imposed per kilogram in weight of the carvings. There is no word yet as to when the move will come into effect for international travelers, but the news has lit a fire under many in the nation in and out of the tourism industry.

Indeed, the concerns have compelled a few tour operators to include these new fees in their literature with a disclaimer. Others are planning to outright tell tourists to simply not buy any wood carvings during their stay in Tanzania. Safari expeditions are also weighing how to break this news to those interested travelers. Speculation as to why the government would do such a thing has led to questions and theories involving the upcoming national elections and whether or not the administration is dealing with a highly strained budget. Of course, the groups and individuals that will be affected the most by this decree will be local vendors and cooperatives that thrive on the proceeds from these wood carving sales. This initiative seems to be counter-productive to the recent gains made by the country in courting foreign trade investments from India as well as plans to court more Western higher education schools like the University of Pennsylvania to install campuses there.