Mustapha Akunaay, TATO Executive secretary
The government has been urged to form a special security unit to cater for special groups particularly, travellers, who are vulnerable in the new environment and ensure their safety.
Speaking yesterday in Dar es Salaam Tanzania Association of Tour Operators (TATO) executive secretary Mustapha Akunaay said that security and safety are the key motivational factors that drive the travel industry.
Section 126 of the Police Force Act provides for the establishment of the special unit to compliment the force, he said, adding that it states that ‘there shall be established a special unit which will be supplementary to the police force with the function of assisting it in maintaining order and protecting property in special areas.
“…we don’t have any special department of the police that is responsible for tourists…,” reports Akunaay, who also explained that Kenya, South Africa and Botswana do and the merits are remarkable.
“…if we want to attract more tourists into the country and develop the sector, then we need to work on tourists’ safety and security…,” he explained.
Akunaay urged the government to take deliberate measures in tackling the matter as well as review the laws relating to the tourism sector by reminding the responsible officials that the move is crucial for boosting economic growth and sustainability.
Tourism accounts for 17.5 percent of Tanzania’s GDP and supports an estimated five million direct jobs as well as 800,000 indirect employments.
According to experts, due to the sector’s linkage to the rest of the economy, it is able to generate more jobs than any other sector.
At the moment, the country has various laws addressing security and safety issues but they are criminal laws, there are no specific provisions under the law that clearly addresses security and safety for tourists visiting the country.
Commenting on the matter, the newly appointed Commander of the Tourism Unit Assistant Commissioner of Police (ACP), Benedict Kitalika had this to say:
“…yes there is a lot to be done…currently we have a desk in all police stations across the country designated specially for foreigner/tourism related issues….”
He conceded that the number of desks is not enough and that there are only 60 police officers assigned to them while the force needs at least 300.
He explained that he has requested for 80m/- to be used for the training of 240 police officers at the Zanzibar Police College. Once graduated they will form the new unit dedicated to foreigner and tourism related cases, he added.
Akunaay admitted that the government must invest more in the force, grant them better equipment in emergency response vehicles and weapons, and increase its number and broaden its scope.
“…we have been fighting for this for some time now...the government must invest in the force…,” he said.
Jan Gosink from the German Embassy speaking at a tourism stakeholders’ meeting that was held on Wednesday in Dar es Salaam, commented on the matter acknowledging:
“…safety and security are of paramount importance to any country…therefore, I think the government should work on the recommendations and form such a unit…I am sure more tourists will come if they are assured of safety...”