Tanzania revises licensing fee structure to boost Mount Kilimanjaro tourism

Tourists at the summit of Mount Kilimanjaro. PHOTO | COURTESY

What you need to know:

  • The new measure will see a 50 percent reduction of the annual Mount Kilimanjaro climbing business license fee from $2000 to $1000 effective July 1, 2024, drawing widespread praise from industry players

Arusha. The minister for Natural Resources and Tourism, Ms Angella Kairuki, has announced significant changes to the tourism license fee structure for tour operators as she seeks to trim down on the costs of doing business and boost the number of tourists.

The new measure will see a 50 percent reduction of the annual Mount Kilimanjaro climbing business license fee from $2000 to $1000 effective July 1, 2024, drawing widespread praise from industry players.

The strategic decision is part of the government’s broad plan to quadruple annual tourists’ numbers to Africa’s highest mountain from 56,000 to 200,000 and reap more dollars.

Available data shows that nearly 56,000 tourists scale up Mount Kilimanjaro and leave behind $50 million in revenue annually, with 28 percent of revenues trickling into the poor communities.

According to the SNV study dubbed ‘Tracing the Tourist Dollar in Northern Tanzania, climbing Mount Kilimanjaro is a more pro-poor activity compared to other tourist attractions.

The study shows 28 percent of revenues generated on Africa’s highest peak trickle into the poor communities, as opposed to 19 percent of revenue accrued from tourist sites in the famous northern tourism circuit.

This implies that the Mount Kilimanjaro tourism trade pumps $14 million out of $50 million into the pockets of poor folks who solely depend on trekking to make ends meet.

Additionally, Ms. Kairuki declared an adjustment in the newly introduced tour guide fees, lowering the amount from an annual $50 to Sh100,000 for a three-year period.

"It is my fondest hope that the revised fee structure will significantly reduce overhead costs for tour operators and, more importantly, foster a more favourable environment for the growth of the tourism industry,” Ms Kairuki told a tourism stakeholders meeting held in Arusha recently.

The CEO of the Tanzania Association of Tour Operators (Tato), Mr Sirili Akko, endorsed the decision, saying that the previous fees were excessively high for businesses.

“We are so grateful. This initiative would significantly reduce operational costs. The decision sheds light on the government’s commitment to invigorate the industry, which is crucial for the nation’s economic development,” Mr Akko said.

Mount Kilimanjaro, a prime jewel in Tanzania’s crown of natural wonders, not only stands as Africa’s tallest peak but also as a symbol of high-altitude adventure tourism.

Previously, local tour operators faced an annual Mount Kilimanjaro climbing business license fee of $2000, a steep barrier that stifled the growth and competitiveness of local entrepreneurs in the tourism industry.

 “Ms Kairuki’s decision to halve this fee to $1000 represents a decisive step towards creating a more competitive and inclusive market,” Mr. Akko noted.

He further said that the reduction is poised to lower the entry barrier for new local businesses and inspire existing ones to scale their operations without the heavy yoke of prohibitive fees.

Moreover, the minister also addressed the concern regarding the tour guide fee, which was recently set at $50 annually.

“By adjusting this to Sh100,000, approximately $43 for a three-year period, the initiative further eases financial pressures on tour guides who are integral to the tourism experience yet often face economic challenges,” Mr. Akko said.

TATO explained that this thoughtful policy change not only extends economic relief but, more fundamentally, enhances job security for these vital industry players.

“The response from the tourism industry has been overwhelmingly positive, heralding the changes as pivotal for the growth of the multi-billion-dollar tourism industry,” Mr Akko said.

He highlighted how the previous fees were prohibitive and discouraged compliance among local operators, potentially leading to a decrease in business innovation and service quality.

With the revised fees, Mr. Akko said, tour operators would not only be able to afford the necessary licenses but could also reinvest savings into improving service quality, marketing strategies, and ultimately, enhancing the overall tourist experience.

“Truth be told, the measure could significantly impact Tanzania’s tourism landscape.

By lessening financial burdens, the government is stewarding an environment ripe for increased domestic and international tourism traffic,” Tato CEO emphasised.

Increased competition among local operators could lead to more varied and rich tourism packages, which in turn could attract a broader spectrum of tourists, he said.

This diversification is crucial in a global tourism market where consumers are increasingly seeking unique and personalised experiences.

Furthermore, these reductions arrive at a critical time when the global tourism industry is rebounding from the setbacks of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Countries worldwide are now recalibrating strategies to attract tourists, and Tanzania’s move could very well position it as a more attractive destination in the competitive African tourism market.

In conclusion, Minister Kairuki’s policy changes are not merely adjustments in fee structures but are indicative of a larger, strategic thrust towards enhancing the growth and sustainability of Tanzania’s tourism industry,” Mr Akko said.

He added; “This proactive approach not only benefits the economic landscape but also supports the local communities involved in tourism, fostering a more robust and inclusive economic future for Tanzania.”