Tourist arrivals to hit 3.8 million record as rebound beckons

About 40 Chinese tourism stakeholders have traveled in Tanzania to open up Tanzania's tourism market to China. PHOTO | COURTESY

What you need to know:

  • President Hassan is credited with the efforts that resulted in an increase in the number of tourist arrivals from 1.4 million in 2022 to 3.8 million in 2023.

Arusha. Tourist arrivals are likely to hit a record 3.8 million this year, given the promising rate of inflows, it has been revealed.

The sharp increase in foreign visitors may realise the government’s goal of attracting five million tourists, who will generate $6 billion come 2025.

After a major drop attributed to the outbreak of Covid-19 in 2020 and 2021, the key sector has been on a recovery path. Besides eased travel restrictions globally, efforts by the government have resulted in an increased number of tourist arrivals, up from 1.4 million last year.

“Projections for this calendar year (2023) are 3,818,180 million tourists”, said Dr. Thereza I. Mugobi, the director of tourism in the ministry of Natural Resources and tourism.

She revealed this in Serengeti National Park last week during a ground-breaking ceremony for a proposed five-star tourist lodge to be put up there at the cost of $32 million.

She expressed her gratitude to President Samia Suluhu Hassan for her tireless efforts to turn around the tourism sector after it was severely hit by Covid-19.

According to her, measures taken by the government to turn around the sector include putting in place a conducive environment for tourism to thrive.

These include the Tanzania Royal Tour programme, which, she said, has led to the recovery of the sector through increased arrivals and more inflows of investments.

President Hassan is credited with the efforts that resulted in an increase in the number of tourist arrivals from 1.4 million in 2022 to 3.8 million in 2023.

“The aim is to reach five million arrivals and generate an income of $6 billion by 2025,” Dr Mugobi pointed out.

Tourism has for years been the leading source of foreign exchange, generating $2.5 billion into the economy in 2019. The figure dropped to only $1 billion in 2020 when tourist arrivals plummeted to about 600,000 following the outbreak of the global pandemic.

But recent figures by the Bank of Tanzania appear to be promising; tourism earnings rose to $2.9 billion in the year ending July 2023.

Dr Mugobi said the construction of the luxury tourist outfit named Kempinski Longosa Lodge supports the government’s move to strengthen the tourism sector.

The government, she explained, would continue creating an attractive investment climate and business environment to promote the sector and foster economic growth.

She lauded Helios Lodges Company, the owners of the outfit, for investing in accommodation facilities in the famous Serengeti NP.

“I can assure you that the government will continue to create an attractive business environment for investors”, she explained.

On its part,the government remains committed to sustainable tourism development, noting that there are several untapped opportunities to invest in. These include a variety of tourist attractions categorised into natural, cultural, and man-made resources across the country.

“The existence of these attractions appeals to a significant number of tourists from different parts of the world to visit Tanzania,” she added.

The luxurious facility at Lobo, set for completion in 2025, will be managed by Geneva-based Kempinski, a global hotel management group. The five-star lodge inside the spectacular Serengeti will add more rooms for high-end tourists who have lately flocked to the park in droves.

It is scheduled to open for the high tourism season in the middle of 2025. It is being constructed on a hillside overlooking plains teeming with wild animals.

Kempinski chief operating officer for Europe, the Middle East, and Africa, Timur Sentuerk, said the luxury outfit will target high-end tourists from abroad. It will be constructed near the Lobo airstrip to facilitate foreign visitors heading to the area. Two other major airstrips in the park are located at Seronera and Kogatende.

The facility will have 75 rooms (150 beds), which will include one presidential villa and regular rooms, among other amenities. Its owners, Helios Lodges Company Limited, are investors from Bulgaria. The company was established in 2018 to invest in and develop tourism and hospitality projects in Tanzania.