The government allowed foreign visitors and international flights back into the country in June after a three-month ban due to the Covid-19, becoming the first country in East Africa to do so hence attract the attention of French travellers.
Tanzania National Parks’ Assistant Conservation Commissioner in charge of Business portfolio, Beatrice Kessy, said last week that records indicate that a total of 3,062 French tourists visited national parks in the period starting July to September this year. Kessy said France was followed by the US which had 2,327 holidaymakers.
She said third on the list is Germany with 1,317 visitors, followed by the UK with 1,051 tourists while Spain had 1, 050 holidaymakers and India had 844 travellers who came to the country. Other countries on the top ten list were Switzerland (727 tourists), Russia (669), Netherlands (431) and Australia (367).
“We are so grateful to French tourists for casting a vote of confidence in Tanzania as a safe destination. Their arrival plays a key role in spreading trust more widely, with benefits travelling far beyond tourism,” she explained.
Tanzania’s Ambassador to France, Samwel Shelukindo said France has become a reliable ally to the country because the European nation supports responsible and timely recovery of the tourism industry, on which millions of small businesses and jobs depend.
Shelukindo said the development has not occurred by default, but rather, was out of painstaking joint efforts spearheaded both governments and the private sector. “My office worked extra-time in close cooperation with the Mount Kilimanjaro Safari Club and Axium by Parker, as well as Tanzania Tourists Board. We have organized several meetings with tour operators and mainstream media to reassure French travellers that Tanzania is a safe destination free from Covid-19,” Shelukindo said in a recent interview.
The envoy also commended President John Pombe Magufuli’s firm position to keep the country open to business other than follow his peers’ decision to lockdown their countries for fear of the virus.
He said Dr Magufuli has joined few world leaders who have resisted to lockdown their countries such as Sweden. “I’m proud of President Magufuli’s bold stance against the virus which has boosted confidence abroad for Tanzania. I’m also heavily indebted to MKSC, Axium by Parker and TTB for their spirited campaigns to promote Tanzania as a safe destination,” he noted.
Since assuming office as the country’s envoy to France way back in 2017, Shelukindo has boosted numbers of French tourists coming to the country tremendously. Official data shows that in 2016, there were 24, 611 French tourists who visited the country but the number increased to 33,925 in 2017 and 41,330 in 2018 but reached a record 56,297 holidaymakers last year.
MKSC founder, Denis Lebouteux said in most cases, French tourists have been flocking into Tanzania in low season when the country’s national parks and hotels are almost empty. “So this is uniqueness of French tourists,” Lebouteux said, adding that they come at a time when Tanzania needs them most.
Enthralled by the country’s peace and love, its endowed wildlife, beaches and culture, French tourists are slowly, but surely becoming an important group of visitors rejuvenating the Covid-19 battered tourism industry.
With nearly 1.5 million tourist arrivals annually, wildlife tourism continues growing and cementing its position as the leading foreign currency earner in Tanzania, fetching the country U$2.5 billion, an equivalent to nearly 17.6 percent of gross domestic product. In addition, tourism also provides 600,000 direct jobs to locals and an estimated one million plus indirectly.