Dar es Salaam. The government says it hopes the newly-launched ‘Tanzania Safari Channel’ will give a much-needed boost to the country’s tourism sector.
Prime Minister Kassim Majaliwa unveiled the ambitious 24-hour television channel at a function held at the Tanzania Broadcasting Corporation (TBC) in Dar es Salaam yesterday.
Tanzania is seeking to use the exclusive channel as part of an ongoing campaign to raise annual tourist arrivals from 1.3 million to at least 2 million by 2020, the PM said at the launch ceremony.
“Last year, we collected at least $2.3 billion, which is equal to Sh5.04 trillion from the tourism sector,” Prime Minister Majaliwa said. He said he was optimistic the channel would help to transform the sector by increasing the number of both domestic and foreign tourists.
The channel will be broadcast via TBC 1, showcasing a variety of documentaries related to tourism in Tanzania, including national parks.
The construction of the studio where the documentaries will be processed cost at least Sh734 million, and was funded by Tanzania National Parks Authority (Tanapa), according to TBC director general Ayub Rioba.
He said President John Magufuli mooted the idea during his official visit to TBC offices in May, 2016.
Tourism and Natural Resources minister Hamis Kigwangalla said the channel was a “game-changer” for the country’s tourism sector.
The sector is currently contributing only 17.7 per cent of the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP), said Dr Kigwangalla. “The aim is to make sure that the sector contributes sufficient revenue to the GDP.”
Tourism remains the main source of foreign currency in the country. Tanzania is best known for its beaches, safaris and Mount Kilimanjaro. It is also popular with tourists because of its wildlife and spectacular scenery.
The annual migration of more than one million wildebeest between the Seregenti National Park in Tanzania and Kenya’s Masai Mara Game Reserve is a spectacle that draws tourists from around the world.
The sight of wildebeest crossing the crocodile-infested Mara River has been described as the seventh wonder of the world.
Prime Minister Majaliwa urged regional authorities to ensure that the country’s wildlife is protected against poachers, who are a big threat to the tourism industry.
Tanzania recently emerged as the epicentre of Africa’s elephant poaching crisis after a government census revealed it had lost about 60 per cent of its elephants in just five years.