2022: How Samia’s Royal Tour film boosted tourism

IN the year 2022, the tourism sector received a big boost from President Samia Suluhu Hassan following her decision to feature in the Tanzania Royal Tour documentary.

This was the first time in Tanzania’s history, where the Head of State played such a role in a film, as part of efforts to revive the tourism industry that was greatly affected by the Covid-19 pandemic.

The initial launch was done in New York on April 18, 2022 and filming in Los Angeles on April 21, last year and in Dar es Salaam on April 28 the same year and in Zanzibar.

The documentary has had a ripple effect in the tourism sector which earns the country about 2 billion US dollars (about 4.6tri/-) per annum, with backpackers coming in droves from all over the world to sample Tanzania’s tourist attractions.

Produced by award-winning American travel journalist, Mr Peter Greenberg, the Tanzania Royal Tour documentary staged President Samia as Mr Greenberg’s tour guide as they crisscrossed the country from the islands of Zanzibar to Mount Kilimanjaro and finally to the expanse of Serengeti National Park, among other destinations.

Tanzania envisions to increase the number of tourists to five million per annum by the year 2025 from the current two million backpackers and it also targets to collect 6 billion US dollars (about 13.8tri/-) in revenues from the tourism sector.

Recent statistics by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) show a sharp rise of backpackers to 1,175,697 visitors between January and October, last year, compared to 716,741 during the corresponding period 2021.

According to the NBS Director of Economic Statistics, Mr Daniel Masolwa, there was a noticeable increase of 458,956 tourists, which is equivalent to a 64 per cent rise.

The NBS official attributed the increase to the much-publicised Royal Tour documentary and other initiatives by the government.

According to Mr Masolwa, in October 2022 alone the number of tourists who entered the country increased to 141,517, compared to 92,345 visitors in 2021, which is equivalent to a 53.2 per cent increase.

Mr Masolwa said that from the African continent, Kenya was leading by the large number of tourists who visited Tanzania in October this year with 15,701 tourists, followed by Burundi (8,929 tourists), South Africa (3,802), Rwanda (3,715) and Uganda (3,229).

He explained that France recorded the highest number of tourist arrivals from outside Africa with 12,543 tourists, followed by the United States of America (USA) with 9,097 tourists, Germany (8,874), United Kingdom (6,514) and Italy (4,557).

“The increase of tourists is attributed to the government’s continued efforts to promote tourism attractions within and outside the country in general and in particular through the Tanzania Royal Tour documentary filmed by Dr Samia,’’ he noted.

“As you can see there is a massive increase of tourists entering Tanzania tourist attractions in this period compared to the same period in 2021.

“We hope to receive more tourists and we might approach the number of tourists entering the country in 2019 before the Covid-19 pandemic,” he added.

“During the Covid-19 pandemic, the number of tourists decreased but due to efforts being undertaken by the government such as the Tanzania Royal Tour documentary we have noticed a huge increase of tourists from all over the world,” Mr Masolwa observed.

Mid last year, the Kilimanjaro International Airport (KIA) became a beehive of activity following a number of tourists that had flocked the country.

Similarly, a number of major airlines started their maiden direct flights to Tanzania with some increasing their flight frequencies following the premiering of the feature film by the President.

Such a development also saw a number of hotel establishments in the northern tourism circuit running out of beds.

The Royal Tour documentary continued to gain momentum worldwide after the film premiered in Stockholm, Sweden in September, as the country continued to witness an increased number of tourists.

The premiering of the film in the Scandinavian country is part of efforts by the government to promote tourism and investment opportunities in Tanzania.

Tanzanian Ambassador to Sweden, Grace Olotu said the premiering of the documentary was attended by travel and tourism journalists from that country, who are expected to promote tourist attractions found in Tanzania in their country.

Ambassador Olotu said the showcasing of the film in Sweden is expected to promote and attract tourists from 12 countries in the Scandinavia and Baltic Sea.

The Tanzanian envoy explained further that the government will continue with efforts to promote tourism in Tanzania by premiering the documentary in other countries which are under her supervision.

She mentioned the countries in question as Norway, Finland, Denmark, Iceland, Lithuania, Estonia, and Latvia among others.

“I am highly optimistic that efforts by the government through our embassy and other stakeholders will bear fruit in increasing the number of tourists in the transition period after the Covid-19 pandemic which had a negative impact in the tourism sector worldwide,” she remarked.

On the other hand, tourism goodwill ambassador, Mr Hazze Shija Sandström, who also attended the launching ceremony, was hopeful that the ongoing efforts in promoting tourism will increase the number of tourists and unlock tourism opportunities in the southern circuit.

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