Dar es Salaam. France has overshadowed America as the top inbound travel market for Tanzania since the latter re-opened its skies on June 1, after three months of Covid-19 pandemic.
Data from the Tanzania National Parks Authority (Tanapa) shows France is leading, overtaking the US in terms of tourist arrival numbers over the three month of July, August and September 2020.
The Tanapa assistant conservation commissioner in-charge of Business portfolio, Ms Beatrice Kessy, said a total of 3,062 French tourists visited national parks during the period under review, elevating France to the top - and outshining the US with 2,327 holiday makers.
Third on the list of key Tanzania’s tourist source markets at the height of the Covid-19 pandemic was Germany - with 1,317 visitors - followed by the UK with 1,051 tourists in fourth position.
Spain, in the fifth spot, supplied Tanzania with 1,050 holidaymakers, trailed by India with 844 travellers who sampled the country’s bestowed natural attractions.
Switzerland holds the seventh position - with 727 tourists - followed by Russia in the eighth slot (669 visitors); The Netherlands (431 tourists) in ninth place. Tenth was Australia, with 367 vacationers during the period under review. This implies that France has not only cast a vote of confidence in Tanzania’s approach to handling the Covid-19 pandemic; it also becomes a true ally in helping the country to revive its tourism industry in a bid to spur other businesses, recover thousands of lost jobs, spawn and pump revenue into public coffers.
“We are grateful to French tourists for casting a vote of confidence in Tanzania as a safe destination. Their arrival plays a key role in spreading trust more widely, with benefits going far beyond the tourism industry,” Ms Kessy explained. The feat has not occurred by default; rather, it was out of painstaking joint efforts spearheaded by the Tanzania Ambassador to France, Mr Samwel Shelukindo.
“My office worked day and night with leading tourism stakeholders to bring French tourists: the Mount Kilimanjaro Safari Club (MKSC), Axium by Parker, and the Tanzania Tourists Board (TTB).
“We organised several meetings with tour operators and mainstream media to reassure them that Tanzania was a safe destination amid the Covic-19 pandemic,” Mr Shelukindo said over the phone from Paris.
He said President John Magufuli’s stance to keep the country free from lock-downs - and to warmly welcome tourists - had boosted their initiatives. MKSC founder Denis Lebouteux said in most cases, French tourists have been flocking into Tanzania during low seasons when the country’s national parks and hotels are really hungry to fill empty rooms.