Being EA’s top tourist hot spot is an attainable goal

Friday February 16 2018

 

By TheCitizen

For quite some time now, neighbouring Kenya has been the biggest economy in East Africa – and the region’s leading tourist destination. If by “tourism” we mean “the commercial organisation and operation of holidays/pleasure, business and other visits to places of interest”, then Tanzania is finally turning the tables on Kenya, heavily breathing down its neck in the economic and tourism growth stakes.

Take tourism, for starters. While Kenya had 1,342,899 international tourist arrivals in 2016 (up from 954,335 in 2006), Tanzania hosted 1,284,279 tourists in 2016, up from 622,000 in 2006,

Clearly, then, Tanzania is on the heels of Kenya, and is about to overtake that country in tourist arrival numbers and related earnings.

So, when Kenya’s Tourism minister Najib Balala publicly admitted as much, he wasn’t far off the mark. Mr Balala says lack of adequate world-class hotels in Kenya has made Tanzania a better proposition for tourists in East Africa.

In any case, Tanzania’s redoubled efforts at growing its economy via such potential sectors as tourism must not be overlooked.

It must be said that a lot has been done in the past decade or so. Tanzania has for many decades been viewed as a sleeping giant as far as tourism potential is concerned.

But the country must not rest on its laurels because of the ongoing positive developments. Encouraged as we are by the progress – and taking into account that tourism is Tanzania’s leading foreign exchange earner ($2.3 billion last year) and contributes 17 per cent of GDP – we must strive even harder to become the top tourist destination – and cling to the top.

COMMENDABLE MOVE, BUT...

Measures announced this week by the Police Force aimed at curbing accidents on a notorious section of the busy Chalinze-Segera highway in Tanga Region were long overdue. Unfortunately, it took the loss of the lives of five people killed earlier in the week when a bus collided with a minibus in Kabuku, Handeni District, for police to be jolted into action.

Traffic police chief Fortunatus Musilimu said officers equipped with speed guns would be stationed at one-kilometre intervals along the 10-kilometre stretch, where motorists, particularly bus drivers, tend to speed despite the winding and hilly nature of the road.

This decision is commendable, but the inevitable question is: what will happen at night when traffic police are usually not on duty to check speeding on major roads? It is not a secret that buses travel at insanely high speeds after dark as drivers seek to make up for time “lost” observing speed limits during the day. They do this safe in the knowledge that there are no speed gun-totting traffic police officers lurking among the bushes by the roadside at night.

Traffic police and other road safety stakeholders need to come up with ideas that will ensure that road safety rules are strictly adhered to around the clock, and not just during the day.