Tourism rebound: This is no time to rest on our laurels, cautions Majaliwa

Prime Minister Kassim Majaliwa addresses 65th United Nations World Tourism Organisation conference in Arusha yesterday. PHOTO | FILE

Summary

  • Opening an international conference organised by the United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UN-WTO) in Arusha, Mr Majaliwa challenged the industry stakeholders to give equal focus on new products other than nature based attractions.

Arusha. Prime Minister Kassim Majaliwa yesterday cautioned Tanzanians not to be complacent because the key tourism industry was on a rebound.

Opening an international conference organised by the United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UN-WTO) in Arusha, Mr Majaliwa challenged the industry stakeholders to give equal focus on new products other than nature based attractions.

He said diversification would ensure resilience to the key industry in the wake of calamities such as Covid-19 which recently brought the sector to its knees.

Mr Majaliwa added that it was clear that the sector was recovering quickly from the severe impact of coronavirus two years ago.

However, he stressed that to make tourism resilient to “such misfortunes,” new destination sites have to be introduced, citing the cultural attractions.

“We have to be a bit innovative by giving enough weight to new products in cultural tourism with its associated relics,” he said.

Deliberate efforts must also be made to promote a new segment in tourism MICE (meetings, incentives, conferences and exhibitions).

Furthermore, deliberate measures have to be made to protect the natural and cultural heritage resources the country is endowed with in order to sustain tourism.

“Tanzania intends to be the leading tourist destination in Africa in both the natural and cultural attractions,” Mr Majaliwa said.

The three-day gathering brought together tourism ministers from across Africa as well as other industry players from within and outside the continent.

This is the first international meeting organized by the UN-WTO to take place in Tanzania since the country joined the body in 1978.

The PM and other local officials took advantage of the gathering to showcase the country’s potentials in tourism and tourism-related investments.

Facts were laid bare on how Tanzania was recovering fast from the severe impact of Covid-19 which saw the visitors drop by over 70 percent.

When Covid-19 reared its ugly head in December 2019, tourism revenues in the country had reached a record $2.6 billion. The leading foreign exchange sector then contributed 17.2 percent of the gross domestic product (GDP) and provided 1.5 direct and indirect jobs.

All of a sudden, the number of visitors took a tumble from 1.5 million in 2019 to 620,867 in the following year, a drop of 72.5 percent.

Prime Minister Kassim Majaliwa presents a memento to United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) secretary-general Zurab Pololikashvili after Mr Majaliwa opened the 65th Meeting of the UNWTO Regional Commission for Africa in Arusha yesterday. Looking on is Natural Resources and Tourism minister Pindi Chana.
PHOTO | PMO

Last year saw a sharp increase as the number of visitors and revenues generated went up after relaxed travel restrictions globally and aggressive marketing.

A total of about 922,000 visitors were recorded, an increase of 81 percent compared to those who landed from abroad in 2020.

Revenue generated from the tourism sector increased from $714 million in 2020 - the year the pandemic ravaged the industry most - to $1.3 billion last year.

In her welcoming remarks, Natural Resources and Tourism minister Pindi Chana said until yesterday 33 African countries were represented.

The minister said the meeting would be graced with an investment forum, a side event that will dominate today’s discussions.

The high profile meeting at Gran Melia Hotel will also see the launching of investment guidelines in Tanzania and a marketing symposium.

UN-WTO secretary-general Zurab Plolikashvil said the tourism industry in Africa would recover by 60 percent after a slump from the pandemic.

He cited Tanzania as one of the countries where the recovery had been fast compared to other countries, saying it was an encouraging sign.

Since the beginning of the year, he said, over 450,000 visitors have been to Tanzania “because you are experiencing vitality to the industry”.

He appealed to the African countries to relax air travel restrictions in order to accelerate the recovery as well as new investments.