Dar es Salaam — Tanzanian tourism stakeholders are now seeking audience with the government to deliberate current challenges and find solutions to unlock the potentials of the sector.
Tourism was Tanzania’s leading foreign exchange earner until recently when it was hard hit by Covid-19 which disrupted economic activities around the world.
Earnings from the tourism dropped from $2.67 billion in the year ending February 2020 to $876.8 million in the year to February 2021, according to the Bank of Tanzania.
The fall is due to the decrease of the number of international arrivals that dropped to 509,773 from 1,553,686 visitors previously.
To revive the sector, President Samia Suluhu Hassan on Thursday highlighted priorities of her government in the tourism sector including attracting investors as she made her maiden address to Parliament in Dodoma.
She said despite the repercussions brought about by Covid-19 the government targeted to increase revenue collection in the tourism sector to $6 billion by 2025 by increasing scope of attractions including conference tourism.
Tourism Confederation of Tanzania (TCT) executive secretary Richard Rugibana told The Citizen that they received the President’s pledge with jubilation because it showed her determination to strengthen the sector.
“The tourism sector has been adversely affected by Covid-19 with the number of tourists visiting having declined tremendously thereby affecting businesses,” he said. He said that they were seeking a dialogue with the relevant authorities so as to share their experience that will improve the sector going forward.
“We have all witnessed that countries are currently vaccinating their people and therefore hope that they will open doors and allow tourists to visit tourist’s destination including our country,” he said.
For his part, Tanzania Local Tour Operators (TLTO) chairman Samuel Diah told The Citizen that with a view to improving the tourist sector, it was imperative the government empowered the sector by building infrastructure while tour operators and other stakeholders invested in the sector.
He said there was a need to form a joint technical committee through the Public-Private Partnership arrangement to come up with strategies to improve the sector.
He noted that they were calling on the government to introduce new attractions like new hotels and restaurants.
“There is also a need to reinforce existing facilities to meet international tourist standards,” he said.
Explaining further, he said there were currently plans to restore Arusha as a tourist destination that included using mountains and forest within the city to start walking trails to attract day walking tours.
Further, he said the use of Naura river to add value with stalls and infrastructure may enable tourists to use it as a trail during the day and rest along the river bank in the evening.
He noted that they also call for the introduction of bike ride tours in the city and at the same time use existing gardens to turn them into resting or leisure gardens for both locals and tourists.