TOURISM has contributed $1 billion to Tanzania’s economy, overtaking agriculture to become the leading contributor of GDP, according to the governor of the Bank of Tanzania, Professor Benno Ndulu.
“Estimates are that more than 750,000 tourists are expected to arrive in the country this year, bringing in about $950 million. We attribute this growth to several factors: Tanzania has a stable and peaceful environment with a democratically elected government,” said Shamsa Mwangunga, minister of Natural Resources and Tourism.
The favourable business environment has enabled hotel chains such as Kempiski, Holiday Inn and Movenpick to invest in new luxury hotel builds on the mainland and in Zanzibar. Airline links between Tanzania and key European cities have also been a catalyst in the growth in tourism; KLM Royal Dutch Airlines, Swiss International, Qatar Airways, BA, Ethiopian Airlines and Emirates Airlines currently fly to Dar es Salaam.
KLM Royal Dutch Airlines offer non-stop daily flights between Kilimanjaro International Airport (KIA) and Dar es Salaam and Amsterdam, connecting Tanzania with Europe and North America; Ethiopian Airlines offer good network from USA and Europe to KIA and Dar es Salaam.
Air Tanzania is embarking on a full fleet renewal exercise, domestically and regionally. Tanzania’s Precision Air will shortly commence flights from Tanzania to Angola, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Mumbai and Dubai to satisfy business demands for access to Dar es Salaam port.
Peter Mwenguo, managing director Tanzania Tourist Board which exhibited at ATM alongside Tanzania National Parks and other local companies, said these improvements together with the diversification of their tourism product added to the existing allure of Tanzania’s wildlife, seven UNESCO World Heritage sites, the cultural richness and friendliness of Tanzanians, miles of beautiful Indian Ocean coastline and the exotic Spice Islands of Zanzibar.
“In the past, many tour operators to East Africa bundled Tanzania as an add-on or extension to other destinations; now the demand by clients is to spend the entire time in Tanzania to view all that Tanzania has to offer, both in terms of safari and beach holidays,” he said.
“Such is the demand for Tanzania’s attractions that tour operators have recently expanded their programmes to include the lesser known southern tourist circuit where visitors can explore Selous Game Reserve and Ruaha National Park.
“Recently it was announced that Ruaha will be combined with the adjacent Usangu Game Reserve, making it the largest National Park in Africa,’ said Mwenguo.
Its diverse products include adventure tourism, game viewing, mountain climbing and trekking, deep sea fishing, scuba diving and snorkeling, cultural tourism, bird watching and honeymooning.
Mount Kilimanjaro at 4,800 metres (15, 840 ft) is the highest point of Africa. It is a protected area, carefully regulated under the Tanzania National Parks Policies and Regulations. According to Mr Alan Kijazi, director of Planning and Development Projects and Tourism Services, Tanzania National Parks, up to 35,000 visitors attempt to climb the mountain every year.
“We have to ensure that tourism in this area is conducted in a sustainable manner to conserve and preserve our natural and cultural resources. Our regulations and careful management enables climbers to enjoy their climb while minimising their carbon footprints,” said Kijazi.
The major tourism activity within the park is mountain climbing and hiking and most treks are undertaken with the safe help of porters and guides, all of whom have to be local.
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