In a speech read on his behalf in Dar es Salaam yesterday by Chief Secretary Ambassador John Kijazi during the launch of a three-day Swahili International Tourism (SITE) Expo 2019, the president said the ministry and agencies tasked with tourism promotion should do more to ensure that arrivals match the status of Tanzania as the land of Kilimanjaro, Serengeti, Ngorongoro and other renowned tourism hotspots.
Recent statistics released by the ministry show that the number of tourists entering the country increased from 1.3m in 2017 to 1.5m in 2018, with tourism generating $2.4 billion, a 7.2 per cent rise from $2.3 billion in 2017.
The –president said that this is not enough given the size of the country and its world-renowned attractions, advising the ministry and its agencies to increase more tourism products and conduct promotions to increase the number of arrivals and related income.
“There is a huge potential in cruise ship tourism, beach tourism as well as conference tourism. Make good use of these opportunities,” he emphasized, underlining that the 1.5m arrivals are low compared to the tourist attractions the country maintains. “Mauritius attracts the same number of tourists only through beach tourism,” he declared.
The ministry should keep on investing in new areas by collaborating closely with the private sector, he said, highlighting that this year’s Swahili International Tourism Expo brought about 600 tourism stakeholders from around the world.
The global growth of tourism last year stood at an average of six per cent but for Tanzania the sector grew at 13 per cent. The sector leads in attracting foreign currency and had contributed 17.5 per cent of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP).
“Tourism is a sector that has employed many Tanzania formally and informally. The government and every stakeholder and individual citizens need to play their part in making sure that the sector prospers,” he asserted.
The implementation of major projects such as the Standard Gauge Railway, construction of airports and the renovation of the national carrier, road building along with port expansion and rehabilitation show how the government is creating a conducive environment for investors, including those in the tourism sector,” the president affirmed.
He however commended the contribution of the private sector in the growth of tourism especially through investment in hospitality, pointing at initiatives and commitments that the government has been entering with development partners such as the REGROW project for the Southern Highlands signed last year with the World Bank.
Dr Khamis Kigwangalla, the minister for Natural Resources and Tourism, said SITE Expo 2019 was being hosted by the Tanzania Tourism Board (TTB) in collaboration with tourism stakeholders since 2014 and has been a great success.
“The Swahili International Tourism Expo is becoming popular in the continent and worldwide as years pass by. The essence of inviting stakeholders from different parts of the world is to attract business partners, exchange experiences in the tourism business and find new tourism markets,” the minister affirmed.
Through the Expo, the ministry is expected to learn new techniques of promoting and advertising tourism attractions and how to do tourism through partnership with other countries, he said.
“The tourism sector contributes to the industrialization agenda through procurement of vehicle accessories for tour vehicles, procuring of materials for hotel construction and infrastructure. From this perspective the ministry is crucial to industrialization,” he emphasized.
On his part, the Zanzibar Minister of Information, Tourism and Heritage, Mahmoud Thabit Kombo said that Zanzibar had already met the target set for attracting 500,000 tourists to the islands by attracting 528,000 reached by the end of last year.
“We hope that by the end of next year we shall have been able to attract 700,000 tourists. From every 100 tourists visiting Tanzania, 28 out of them visit Zanzibar during their last three days. The growth of the tourism sector for the Mainland means further growth of the sector in Zanzibar,” he pointed out.
About 30 per cent of GDP growth in the Isles is contributed by the tourism sector and also nets above 80 per cent of foreign direct investments. The sector contributed $476million in 2018 to Isles GDP, he added.