IT was delightful to hear recently that the number of tourists visiting Tanzania has increased significantly boosting revenue receipts from 1.3 billion US dollars in 2011 to 2.21 billion in 2016.
Indeed, it is hats off to the Ministry of Natural Resources and Tourism.
The Minister for Natural Resources and Tourism, Prof Jumanne Maghembe, told the National Assembly on Tuesday that a total of 867,994 tourists visited the country’s tourism spots in 2011 but the figure spiraled to 1,284,279 in 2016. It is imperative to mention at the outset that Tanzania remains the richest country in the world in terms of the number of tourist attractions.
There are 16 National Parks, 29 Game Reserves, 40 controlled conservation areas and Marine Parks and other spots.
This being the case, the government has apportioned more than 44 percent of the nation’s land area to game reserves and national parks. Mount Kilimanjaro, the Roof of Africa, is also located in Tanzania. Other sparkling spots are in Zanzibar. But until recently tourist arrivals remained bleak.
It is delightful, nevertheless, to learn that arrivals have been climbing steadily, thanks to the indefatigable efforts by Tanzania National Parks and other stakeholders whose advertising campaigns have borne fruit.
For the moment the nation envisages creating a friendlier climate that would see the number of arrivals climbing even higher. Indeed, much greater effort is needed in this direction.
It is unthinkable that a country that has 16 attractive wildlife sanctuaries and many other intriguing tourist spots should fail to shunt in millions of lovers of nature. Much greater effort should be made to popularize Tanzania as a sparkling tourism spot.
Unfortunately, most roads that lead into national parks are impassable during rainy seasons. These should be improved to gravel or even tarmac level. We cannot afford to disappoint visitors who contribute significantly to national economy. During peak tourism seasons, especially between June and November, tourist hotels fill too full and the nation falls embarrassingly short of beds.
Tanzania has about 15,000 beds in tourism facilities against a standard requirement of about a million. The situation calls for a scramble to construct new tourist hotels and other facilities if extended targets are to be met comfortably. Neighbouring Kenya has more than 28,000 tourist beds on the Indian Ocean coastline alone.
The city of Nairobi has more than 15,000.
This means that Kenya, which logs 1.5 million tourist arrivals every year, will keep sprinting ahead in the tourism industry if too little or nothing is done to sell Tanzania as a tourist destination more vigorously. The state should sit up and take notice.