Speaking to the TTB management yesterday in Dar es Salaam, Minister for Natural Resources and Tourism Prof Jumanne Maghembe, said it is time the board unlocks the potential of the countries tourism industry.
“We have been mandated to develop this industry…we have been conservative, let us change so as to have at least 3 million tourists by 2017,” he said.
Currently, Tanzania receives 1.1 million visitors bringing in about 2 billion USD in foreign exchange earnings triple what the agriculture sector, the back bone of the economy, reels in.
To reach the target, the minister urged the board to consider creation of exclusive tourism centres that will serve as safe investment centres and that will ensure a steady flow of income across all seasons; “the promotion of the tourism industry is a top economic and cultural priority of the country,” the minister asserted.
He cited potential tourism centres to be developed to include Kigamboni, Tanga, Pangani, Mtwara, Lindi, Mwanza and Kigoma.
“These areas will also be supported by special arrangements that may include laws and systems different from those that apply elsewhere in the country,” the minister added.
“In the coming financial year, the government will make sure these areas are surveyed and needed infrastructures such as roads, electricity and water are in place...hopefully, international developers and hoteliers will be attracted to invest,” he said.
Acknowledging the financial challenges that TTB encounters, Prof said “...I do understand that you are facing financial obstacles that slowdown your performance. I am told you owe the international and domestic advertisers 4.7/-bn the government is going to pay it. We want you to perform well,” emphasised the minister.
He pointed out that Madrid, Spain's central capital, attracts 20 million visitors yet the entire country of Tanzania with all its unique sites brings in a mere one million visitors.
In her response, TTB’s Acting Managing Director Devota Mdachi, reiterated their limited budget; “imagine in the last financial year, TTB’s budget allocation was 4.6bn/- and even then, we got only 27 per cent of that amount.”
According to her, if they are to conduct business and compete with Kenya and South Africa, the government should allocate it at least 15bn/-.
Mdachi said TTB has now created a new website and mobile application through which tourists can access information and buy tourism products and skip meddling middle men.
The App was developed concurrently with the online tourism portal which gives an overview of what Tanzania can offer as a unique tourist destination in Africa, things to do, accommodation and how to plan your trip and will later have provision for the potential visitors to book and make online payments.
The App is available at Google play store and accessible to Android mobile phone users worldwide and will soon be in AppStore (iPhone) too, she said.
“These tourism promotional tools together with commercial TV adverts will add to a number of marketing and promotional tools and techniques used by TTB to promote Tanzania globally. With these, we hope to reach the target as directed by the minister,” she noted.