THE government, in collaboration with various stakeholders in the tourism industry, has for the last three years been struggling to increase the number of tourist arrivals in Tanzania.
The Ministry of Natural Resources and Tourism, some two years ago set the country's annual target at between 900,000 and one million arrivals, up from around 800,000.However, the Minister for Natural resources and Tourism, Ambassador Khamis Kagasheki, on Tuesday expressed concern over the fact that tourist arrivals are still below expectations.The minister rightly observed that tourist arrivals figures in neighbouring countries were impressively going up, despite various challenges compared to Tanzania.
Tanzania's tourist attractions, on the other hand, compare to none in the East African region in term of quality and varieties to view.Tanzania had relatively been enjoying peace and tranquility for the last five decades, while its neighbours including Rwanda, Burundi and Uganda were for a long time been engaged in civil wars.The country is also blessed with more world-class tourist attractions compared with its neighbours.
These include the Serengeti National Park, the Ngorongoro Crater, Kilimanjaro Mountain - Africa's highest - and pristine beaches along the Indian Ocean coast and Zanzibar. Experts attribute low growth in tourist arrivals between 2009 and 2011 to global financial crisis, but inadequate marketing and poor infrastructure are among the factors to blame.According Ambassador Kagasheki the neighbouring Rwanda received 600,000 tourists last year, a difference of only 200,000 compared to Tanzania.
Kenya received 1.2 million tourists; Zimbabwe with all its political problems received a staggering 2.4 million and Uganda over 900,000.This should be now taken as a serious challenge and the right prescription must be sought and administered with due aggressiveness. The government should invest heavily in marketing, especially promotion using various media outlets and developing good and attractive packages.