The Royal Tour will offer a unique opportunity for the country to revamp its tourism industry and tap into more foreign markets. Tanzania offers a wider tourism ‘buffet’ since it has more varieties of attractions compared to its East Africa Community counterparts.
President Samia becomes the second sitting EAC head of state to take part in the prestigious tour and travel television series after Rwandan President Paul Kagame did the same in 2018, a show that was also hosted by Peter Greenberg, a celebrated CBS news travel editor. Rwanda capitalized on the Royal Tour to market its tourist potentials and later started ‘Visit Rwanda’ partnerships with foreign clubs such as Arsenal and Paris Saint Germaine. The tour no doubt paid back tremendously in recent years.
Recording of the footage for Tanzania’s much-awaited Royal Tour documentary that is expected to premiere in the United States starting August 28, 2021 in Zanzibar where the president had gone on an official visit. Apart from shooting some scenes in Zanzibar, President Samia also toured other unique tourist attractions such as Bagamoyo and Serengeti National Park.
By coincidence, the Royal Tour comes at a time when President Samia has been named among 100 most influential women in Africa. Hopefully, this will give the tour more mileage after its premier.
Encouraging news of the coronavirus vaccines admission in the country also boosts hopes of the recovery of the tourism sector in the country and globally but the sector is expected to remain in survival mode until the end of 2021.
Tourism continues to be one of the sectors hardest hit by the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic as it has recorded a sharp decline in foreign arrivals in 2020 thanks to lockdowns being imposed by governments to contain the virus. This in turn has also slowed down the growth development product.
According to the latest World Bank report titled, ‘Transforming Tourism: Toward a Sustainable, Resilient, and Inclusive Sector,’ tourism activities fell sharply in 2020 causing job losses as businesses closed down especially in the hospitality industry.
Consequently various service providers in Tanzania’s tourism and hospitality value chain, including hoteliers, taxi drivers who shuttle tourists from the airport to hotels and porters among others are already feeling the pinch.
The WB report highlighted tourism as central to the country’s economy, livelihoods and poverty reduction, particularly for women, who make up 72 percent of all workers in the tourism sector. “The economic system around tourism has grown in value over the years and in 2019 was the largest foreign exchange earner, the second largest contributor to GDP and the third largest contributor to employment, '' the report noted.
“Tourism offers countries like Tanzania which has abundant natural and cultural endowments, access to lucrative foreign markets,” according to Shaun Mann, the World Bank Senior Private Sector Development Specialist and co-author of the Tanzania Economic Update.
The semi autonomous island of Zanzibar has also witnessed its economy is also struggling with reports indicating that it has severely impacted on GDP growth, slowing down to an estimated 1.3 percent.
Tanzania still faces an uphill task in promoting its full tourism potential but with the Royal Tour as a benchmark, the tourism sector players should come up with long-term strategies to ensure sustainable recovery of the tourism industry so as to attract new foreign and domestic investments.
Revamping Tanzania’s tourism sector should go hand in hand in addressing the long-term challenges of the sector if it is to record positive results in the future. Special focus should be put on reducing red tape and improving the investment climate, market diversification and tourism players should come up with new business models under the Public Private Partnerships model.
Now that President Samia has taken an impressive action to bolster the sector, Ministry of Natural Resources and Tourism should embark on building a resilient and sustainable tourism sector by implementing an aggressive ‘Visit Tanzania’ global marketing campaign to increase international tourists numbers. This campaign should ensure that the tourists get unmatched services at competitive prices.
The author is based in Dar es Salaam and can be reached through: [email protected] / 0758897538.