TAP TOURISM POTENTIAL FOR RAPID ECONOMIC GROWTH

Sunday May 22 2022
By The Citizen Reporter

It is good news that Tanzania’s tourism sector is now steadily recovering from job losses caused by the Covid-19 pandemic that disrupted travel and other economic activities around the world.

The sector was Tanzania’s leading foreign earner by 2019 when it generated $2.6 billion in that year.

Tourism was also increasing job creation until the pandemic turned the tables for both private and public players hitting hard revenue as many businesses were closed and massive layoffs took their toll.

During the pandemic, the sector revenue dropped from $2.6 billion in 2019 to 1.06 billion in 2020, according to the Bank of Tanzania.

The number of international visitors dropped to 620,867 in 2020 from 1.5 million in 2019. Some hotels retrenched workers and other were forced to close shop altogether.

The tour operators also shared a similar story following the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic.

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When all is said and done, the sector is now recovering with the number of jobs slightly increasing to 307,564 in 2021, an audit report shows.

A recent report by the Controller and Auditor General (CAG) shows that the total number of jobs created by the tourism sector in Tanzania decreased from 509,077 in 2019 to 206,956 in 2020 when economies were hit by the pandemic.

The tourism industry provides opportunities for job creation and workforce development beyond what is commonly understood in economic development circles.

In this light, the government and policymakers should examine these opportunities more closely and place greater emphasis on supporting tourism growth and expanding workforce development initiatives targeting this critical industry.

It’s important to note that the tourism industry includes a wide range of jobs, from executive to entry level; skills, from customer service to engineering; and sectors, including hospitality, entertainment and transportation.


What this development means to communities

It’s the workforce development opportunities that could offer the country and communities a lifeline to entry level jobs for our young adult and undereducated populations.

Such opportunities, of course, would address not only a critical economic problem, but also the social problems associated with unemployment.

Specific recommendations that would help the country and communities take advantage of the current and potential impacts of workforce development in the tourism industry include: conducting studies that would drill down more deeply into the tourism industry workforce, training needs, advancement opportunities and success stories; strengthening and promoting career pathways in the tourism industry; increasing job training funds to incumbent tourism employees; and developing initiatives to promote tourism entrepreneurship as an employment option.

The tourism pathway to employment is significant because of its potential to provide entry level workers the skills that today’s employers are seeking, and in many cases, having difficulty finding.

Such skills include the ability to work as part of a team, make decisions and solve problems, and communicate verbally.

These skills, along with a positive attitude, are important components of the customer service ethic that is critical, not only to the tourism industry, but to every economic sector.

Tour guides should also not be left behind as they need to be trained on how best they would perform their jobs.