By Romaisa Hussein – Art in Tanzania internship
African Tourism Development in Perspective
While the continent possesses a wealth of natural and cultural resources, tourism in Africa has largely performed below expectations, and its sometimes poorly managed expansion has had long-term detrimental implications for both people and the environment. To achieve long-term and sustainable forms of tourism that are respectful of Africa’s rich natural and cultural heritage, tourist industry executives and policymakers must take into account the broader historical and socioeconomic background in which tourism is introduced. It is quite wondrous that such a huge land mass lying between the Indian Ocean as well as the great lake Victoria and lake Tanganyika provide an exceptionally rich assortments of tourist sites, ranging from the snowy Mt. Kilimanjaro and open volcano craters to the boundless plains, and from the large tropical rain forests to the warm emerald ocean with white sandy beaches. Some of the world’s most beautiful wildlife regions are located in the northern hemisphere, while others are distributed throughout the country in national parks and game reserves that are densely populated with animals which set amid some of the world’s most breathtaking landscape. Exotic wildlife hunting, fishing, and scuba diving in the Indian Ocean including the friendliness and innate courtesy of the people appeals the visitors in this region from all around the world.
Tourism Master Plan in Tanzania
Tanzania has a plethora of natural, cultural, and man-made attractions in almost every region but many of these are overlooked from the aspect of sustainable tourism development. Although there is huge potential in the country, not all locations are said to develop any time soon in the foreseeable future due to poor access to resources, inadequate infrastructure, and a lack of utilities. Judging from the lack of infrastructure in remote areas of Tanzania, as well as a lack of utilities to put the plan into action, it summarizes that the last decade covered by the ten year Master plan in Tanzania, it is only proper to concentrate development efforts specifically in the parts of the country that lie between Mwanza and Mbeya. In accordance with the results of a poll conducted by the tour operators in Europe and US for the Master Plan, the majority believe that the condition, quantity, diversity and prospects of wildlife in Tanzania’s national parks surpasses to that of wildlife in rival destinations. Although the Northern Wildlife parts in Tanzania are becoming exceedingly packed with tourists, the majority of respondents stated that wildlife is not yet completely over crowded by tourists as it has the potential to compared to the competing destinations which also include hunting areas adjacent to the National Parks. The Ngorongoro Crater and the Serengeti Wildlife Migration are World Heritage Sites and deemed as “unique wildlife watching opportunities”. Participants noted that Tanzania also has the potential to fetch a higher price for its Wildlife Watching, but only if the conditions for the tourism development, as well as the quality of the housing and services are enhanced. Sport hunting may arguably be the ultimate enigma of sustainable tourism. Even though the majority involved in conservation and nature tourism go against hunting and consider it ethically iniquitous, many still acknowledge that, if supervised properly, trophy hunting helps to reduce poaching, causes less environmental degradation, and significantly generates more foreign revenue.
First Sustainable Tourism Management Meeting
In October 2012 in Arusha, the Government of Tanzania hosted the ‘First Pan-African Conference on Sustainable Tourism Management in National Parks and Protected Areas: Challenges and Opportunities’. The conference was organized by the Tanzanian Ministry of Tourism and Environment in which participants discussed “park tourism” to be crucial and a key component to overall national park management in Africa. The meeting was also directed towards having better understanding of the present difficulties in the areas of demand and supply chain management. Moreover, they discussed at length new collaborations and business models for park management structures, with the goal of maximizing the economic and social advantages to the surrounding communities.
Through 1.28 million visitor arrivals in 2016 in Sub-Saharan Africa, Tanzania has since gained popularity on a global scale with its most popular sites being the Serengeti National Park and Zanzibar. Tanzania has always been prime destination for travelers seeking adventure and at the same time has steered clear from mass-market overdevelopment by capitalizing on its natural and cultural assets. Such model is a goal for many developing countries to emulate in the future. With a aim of attracting three million visitors per year by 2022, the government is attempting to develop the first new national tourism strategy expected to focus on high-value infrastructure.
Europe as Potential Tourism Market
According to an official with Tanzania’s Tourist Board, the government is now focusing its tourism marketing efforts in Eastern Europe after experiencing vast success in Western Europe and North America. In an interview with the Tanzania Tourist Board (TTB), Willy Lyimo, the TTB’s northern zone manager stated that the new market will add to the country’s otherwise traditional markets like that of the United States, the United Kingdom, Germany, and France. After meeting with a delegation of travel agencies from Eastern Europe, Lyimo emphasized the importance of growth of new market in Tanzania’s tourism industry, stating that the country stands to gain significantly from it. “This is a distinctive opportunity to extend our base into rising markets.” He also highlighted the tourism potential in countries like Bulgaria and the Czech Republic. Tanzania’s Tourism Board official was also optimistic about the promotion of the country’s natural resources across international travel expos due to the attention indicated by foreign travel agencies and tourism operators to attract tourists in Tanzania.
A representative from Ukraine’s BCD Travel described Tanzania as a well-established safari destination for many Ukrainians and said that his firm will continue to bring more tourists from the country. Because of the “pristine heritage” of Tanzania as well as “plenty of natural resources,” he says, “Tanzania is the ideal gateway for tourists from Ukraine.” Voloshyn was encouraged by the introduction of direct flights from Ukraine’s capital Kiev to the spice island of Zanzibar and believed that this development would help to open up Tanzania to the rest of Eastern Europe. In 2019, Tanzania begun a six-day tourism roadshow in several European nations to promote the country’s tourist attractions. According to Francis Malugu, marketing officer for the Tanzania Tourist Board, ten Tanzanian tourist enterprises participated in roadshows between 3rd June and 8th June in London, Brussels, Paris, and Lyon. In terms of foreign exchange, tourism is one of Tanzania’s most important sources, delivering an average of 2 billion US dollars per year, which is comparable to 25 percent of total foreign exchange earnings, according to government statistics. According to CHL Consulting Groups, the most popular tour programs in the “European market demand profile” include Beach resort, Safari, Single destination /sightseeing, and Dual destination safari/sightseeing. In this market demand profile, Beach resort is the most popular tour program desired by Europe. Safaris are also significantly high in demand, and same goes for beach tourism. While just 15% of the market seeks a vacation that consists solely of beaches, more than one-third i.e. 35% seeks a vacation that includes both a beach and a safari. Tanzania’s most important export markets include the United Kingdom, Germany, France, Scandinavia and Italy.
Earnings from visitors at tourist attraction sites in Tanzania in 2020
According to the Tanzanian Tourism Development Authority, the number of visitors to Tanzania’s tourism attractions resulted in earnings of nearly 17.4 billion Tanzanian shillings (around $7.5 billion US) in the fourth quarter of 2020. In comparison to the fourth quarter of 2019, the value was dropped by about 75%. According to the source, the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic was to blame for the decline in the stock market. Furthermore, the Northern and Lake zones accounted for nearly 90 percent of the overall revenue generated by visitor arrivals in the country.
Prospects for Tourism Development in Tanzania
After a period of being negatively impacted by external challenges, Tanzania’s tourist sector is experiencing tremendous growth once more. Privatized investment in resorts and hotels as well as government investment in infrastructure are expanding new tourist destinations in remote parts of the country. Nevertheless, the tourism industry is still faced with obstacles, such as the application of VAT and the consequences of austerity on business demand. However, the government’s new sector strategy, which is now being developed, should give new impetus as well as a framework that will allow new markets to be explored. Tourism in Tanzania, as in other parts of Africa, should play a developmental role that is in line with the aspirations of the local population. According to Mwalimu Nyerere, “You cannot develop people until they grow themselves.” Even with the continuous development of tourism, it will never be enough to solve all of the difficulties facing the country. However, it can at the very least provide some jobs, help to diversify the local economy, and enhance the quality of life of the people. Tanzania should also take into consideration the establishment of a truly sustainable tourism development program. Such a program necessitates real collaboration across disciplines as well as across the numerous gaps that exist between academics, policymakers, business leaders, and other interested parties and stakeholders. To achieve sustainable tourism potential in the local livelihoods as well as biological conservation, one of the most important challenges is to empower the local people to take initiatives and exercise control over their economic activities and resources. In order to reach sustainable tourism in Tanzania, there is definitely a long road ahead.
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THE UNITED REPUBLIC OF TANZANIA, MINISTRY OF NATURAL RESOURCES AND TOURISM. (2002). TOURISM MASTER PLAN: STRATEGY AND ACTIONS. CHL Consulting Group. Retrieved from http://www.tzonline.org/pdf/tourismmasterplan.pdf
Xinhua. (2018, May 6). Tanzania sets sights on Eastern Europe as potential tourism market. Retrieved from Xinhua.net: http://www.xinhuanet.com/english/2018-05/06/c_137159712.htm
Yan. (2019, June 7). Tanzania stages tourism roadshows in Europe: official. Retrieved from Xinhua.net: http://www.xinhuanet.com/english/2019-06/07/c_138122692.htm