For decades, tourism had been considered a preserve of foreigners. But we saw effects of depending on foreign tourists when the financial crisis of 2007-2008 bit, the worst global economic meltdown since the Great Depression of the 1930s.
Even when major economic powers were out of the woods, Ebola broke out in West Africa.
Both the global economic crisis and Ebola harmed Africa’s tourism. Strategies had to be redrawn up to encourage domestic tourism to cushion impacts experienced during in the last decade.
So, reports that more domestic tourists now visit Serengeti, Arusha and Mkomazi national parks than foreign ones are encouraging. During the past 16 years, Serengeti, the oldest and until recently the largest game sanctuary under Tanzania National Parks, attracted 4.7 million tourists, 2,433,167 of them being Tanzanians and other citizens of the East African Community member countries who also fall under the category of domestic tourists.
Mkomazi National Park attracted 13,433 visitors between 2009/10 and 2016/17, of whom 8,445 were locals and 4,988 from abroad. Between 2010/11 and 2016/17, Arusha National Park attracted 236,039 domestic tourists and 218,986 foreign ones.
However, we should not forget that the numbers of foreign tourists are still high in some wildlife havens.
Lake Manyara National Park attracted 134,045 visitors, 107,689 of them being nonresidents. Tanzania’s tourism is concentrated in the Northern Circuit whose infrastructure is good and publicity is high unlike in the Southern Circuit.
It is in Southern Circuit where Mikumi National Park, Lake Nyasa, the Mbozi meterorite, scenic Kaporogwe Falls and panoramic Eastern Arc Mountains are located.
So is Kitulo Plateau, which is referred to by locals as the Garden of God because of its great floral spectacle.
Let’s build robust infrastructure in all circuits and vigorously promote tourism. We should also widen scope to include cultural tourism.