For quite some time now, Tanzanian tourism has been a major contributor to the national economy.
It is, in fact the country’s leading source of foreign exchange earnings, accounting for some 25 per cent of its export earnings.
As reported in The Citizen yesterday, Tanzania earned $2.449 billion from the tourism sector of the economy last year – up from the $2.25 billion earned in 2017. In that regard, the tourism industry has in recent years been accounting for about 17 per cent of the annual gross domestic product, directly employs around 600,000 workers – and has created a goodly two million indirect jobs countrywide.
All these facts and figures were cited by President John Magufuli in Chato, Geita Region, on Tuesday when he was officially inaugurating the newly created Bugiri-Chato National Park.
This brings to 19 the number of national parks in Tanzania. That is to say nothing of 44 wildlife reserves, 23 natural reserves, 23 forest reserves and 463 natural forest reserves.
All in all, successor governments have managed to set aside around 32 per cent of its total land area as natural/wildlife reserves – the only country in Africa to dedicate so much of its land to wildlife and the conservation of nature and the environment.
Indeed, the country’s tourism potential is immense – and only a relatively small part of which has been fruitfully harnessed to-date.
Therefore, the presidential directive by Dr Magufuli requiring the Ministry of Natural Resources and Tourism and related institutions to find ways and means of promoting the industry for greater returns is most welcome, indeed.
These include reduced “nuisance” costs and unmitigated bureaucracy, as well as measured investments in hospitality aspects – always bearing in mind the welfare and safety of tourists.
We should all heed President Magufuli on this.