Tourist arrivals jumps as recovery beckons

Wednesday December 01 2021
Tourism pic

Israeli tourists landing at the Kilimanjaro International Airport (KIA). on August 2, this year. PHOTO | FILE

By Josephine Christopher

Dar es Salaam. Tanzania’s tourism sector is recovering steadily from the devastating impact of the global Covid-19 pandemic after the number of tourist arrivals increased by 15 percent in the first ten months of this year.

The government said yesterday that 716,169 tourists visited various attractions in Tanzania between January and October, a significant increase from 620,867 visitors during the whole of 2020.

This was revealed by Natural Resources and Tourism deputy minister Mary Masanja when briefing the media on the sector’s development in 60 years of independence.

“This was due to the government’s efforts to mitigate the impact of the pandemic, and come up with various strategies, including organising and participating in conferences, exhibitions and road shows,” she said.

Ms Masanja added that the goal was to draw more visitors from primary markets, including the United Kingdom, United States of America (USA), Germany, France, Italy, Spain and Australia.

More efforts were also directed at the strategic markets of China, Russia, India, Poland, Czech Republic, Israel, Turkey, United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Kuwait and Saud Arabia.

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Before the outbreak of Covid-19, which led to severe travel restrictions worldwide, the number of annual tourist arrivals in Tanzania hit a high of 1,527,230 in 2019.

Government data shows that the sector, which employs more than 1.6 million people, saw revenues crash from $2.6 billion in 2019 to $1.7 billion last year.

It was in view of this reality that the Natural Resources and Tourism ministry decided to increase the number of tourism products to attract more tourists and increase receipts from the sector.

Ms Masanja said the government has continued to design and promote other products such as cruise ship tourism, beach tourism, conferences, historical and cultural tourism, agrotourism, as well as medical tourism.

“The ministry has continued to use Tanzanian embassies to promote regional and international tourism. Also, we make full use of goodwill ambassadors and both the local and international media,” she said.

Other new products the deputy minister mentioned include the use of cable cars to climb Africa’s highest mountain, Mount Kilimanjaro.

According to Ms Masanja, Tanzania would soon finalise the cable car project, which was first mooted in 2019.

“Cable cars would help those who are unable to make the seven-days trek to the mountaintop to get an opportunity to see and experience the imposing Kilimanjaro,” she said.

Ms Masanja said before the government fully implements the project, there were a number of legal and policy issues that need to be taken care of.

“A few things are being finalised, and the project will soon be completed,” she added.

There are similar systems in South Africa, Italy and Sweden that allow people to visit mountainous areas that are virtually inaccessible.

Although this initiative poses a threat to the jobs of porters and guides, it is expected to increase the number of people climbing the mountain and thus boost revenue collection.

Ms Masanja said another initiative the government was looking forward to implementing include the use of international sports teams to advertise Tanzania’s tourist attractions.

“The Minister of Natural Resources and Tourism is currently attending a very important meeting where this is one of the topics being discussed. We are looking at how we can enter into a partnership with an international team to promote Tanzania’s tourism,” she said.

This strategy has been adopted by Rwanda, which in 2019 entered into a three-year partnership with the French football club Paris Saint Germain to advertise tourism in Rwanda.

This was the second partnership after the country entered into the “Visit Rwanda” sleeve sponsorship agreement with English Premier League side Arsenal.