Accessible tourism for all is about the creation of environments

28Sep 2016
The Guardian
Accessible tourism for all is about the creation of environments

YESTERDAY was the World Tourism Day which is celebrated on 27 September every year. Accessible tourism for all is about the creation of environments that can cater for the needs of all of us, whether we are travelling or staying at home.

May that be due to a disability, even temporary, families with small children, or the ageing population, at some point in our lives, sooner or later, we all benefit of universal accessibility in tourism.

Which is why, we want to call upon the right for all of the world’s citizens to experience the incredible diversity of our planet and the beauty of the world we live in.

On this year’s World Tourism Day help us spread the word of both the importance and immense benefits universal accessibility has and can bring to society at large.

Ever since its inception, World Tourism Day is celebrated on 27 September to foster awareness among the international community of the importance of tourism and its social, cultural, political and economic value.

As the official day set aside in the United Nations Calendar the celebration seeks to highlight tourisms potential to contribute to reaching the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), addressing some of the most pressing challenges society is faced with today.

Tanzania is a country with many tourist attractions. Approximately 38 per cent of Tanzania's land area is set aside in protected areas for conservation.

There are 16 national parks, 29 game reserves, 40 controlled conservation areas (including the Ngorongoro Conservation Area) and marine parks. Tanzania is also home to Mount Kilimanjaro, the highest point in Africa.

Travel and tourism contributed 12.7 per cent of Tanzania's gross domestic product and employed 11.0 per cent of the country's labour force (1,189,300 jobs) in 2013.

The sector is growing rapidly, rising from US $1.74 billion in 2004 to US $4.48 billion in 2013. In 2012, 1,043,000 tourists arrived at Tanzania's borders compared to 590,000 in 2005.

Tanzania is home to seven UNESCO World Heritage sites with 6 of them on the mainland and 1 in Zanzibar. Currently there are 5 more sites viable to be nominated such as the Gombe National Park and the East African slave trade route.

The UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation) World Heritage Sites are places of importance to cultural or natural heritage as described in the UNESCO World Heritage Convention, established in 1972.

Tanzania ratified the convention on 2 August 1977, making its historical sites eligible for inclusion on the list. Tanzania has 7 UNESCO world heritage sites and two of them are placed on the world heritage sites in danger.

The history of inbound tourism in Tanzania, performance of tourism sector in the post independence era have key challenges which faces the sector.

The history shows that the modern inbound tourism such as mount climbing started in the pre- colonial era with explorers and missionaries leading the exercise.

The European market is so far the second largest for Tanzanian tourism after African market. This scenario could be attributed to the colonial link between Tanzania and Europe.

As regards the performance, the sector has been doing well especially in the period prior Arusha Declaration (prior
socialism policies) and in the period after trade liberalisation. Despite such a performance the sector is not doing well in comparison with neighbour countries such as Kenya.

The sector also faces a number of challenges which include among others, revenue leakage, environmental destruction, poor infrastructure, poor research, lack of proper statistics and cultural destruction.

The government and other stakeholders need to promote the sector by paying attention to the said challenges.

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