THE status of Dar es Salaam as a conference and business travel hub is to be coupled by efforts by the Tanzania Investment Centre (TIC) to strengthen urban tourism.
The concept is for TIC to collaborate with the Prime Minister's Office (Local Governments as well as Investment and Empowerment), Ministry of Tourism and Natural Resources, Ministry of Lands and Human Settlements Development and the Private Sector to identify and establish areas that would be ideal for development of the urban tourism.
According to the Minister for Natural Resources and Tourism, Mr Khamis Kagasheki, despite being among countries endowed with high-profile tourism destinations, poor mechanism for advertising local sightseeing attractions was the main factor that crippled the country's tourism.
However, he expressed his optimism that the sector will in the near future come to its full potential as many countries and institutions are now chipping-in to work closely with Tanzania to promote tourism. Mr Kagasheki said in the current financial year, his ministry was planning to spend about 5bn/- for promoting domestic tourism, basically through improving services and advertising tourism attraction sites abroad.
"The recently initiated coalition between Tanzania Tourism Board (TTB) and Ethiopian Airline (ET) is another positive endeavour in marketing and promoting the country's tourist destinations worldwide," he noted.As per the pact signed recently between the two sides, Tanzania will, among other things, explore and implement activities to promote tourist traffic to Tanzania using Ethiopian Airline services by advertising on the ET flight magazines and direct marketing of Tanzania tour operations.
Dar es Salaam City has unique assets and facilities and could be a huge revenue source if well developed and promoted; however the City only attracts a small portion of the tourism market due to the absence of well developed attractions for visitors.
"Because of this, the city is missing out on potential tourist dollars, opportunities for job creation, and a chance to re-brand itself as a desirable destination," he says. However, the Dar es Salaam zoo is one of the initiatives looking to cash in on the growth in the tourism that has led to an increased demand for site views across the city.
"The demand is growing," said Salim Msellem, the Executive Director of Dar es Salaam zoo. Investors in the sector are targeting conference and business travellers as well as leisure tourists who come into the country via Dar es Salaam on their way to other tourist destinations.
The zoo is preserved with natural flora and fauna and is located at Kigamboni on the south east of Dar es Salaam city. Having varieties of domestic and wild animals, reptiles and birds including giraffe, zebras, crocodiles, snakes, antelopes, tortoises, gazelles and a wide variety of birds.
He said it also comprises domestic animals and some birds, including domestic fowls, turkeys, geese, ducks, ostriches, guinea fowls and pigeons as well as dairy cattle, sheep and goats. Already the city and municipal councils in Dar es Salaam have been urged to identify and develop areas that could be utilised for boosting urban tourism in the country.
City tourism is popular in many parts of the world and enables the councils to earn extra income. TIC has already asked the municipal mayors and district commissioners (DCs) to forge a common strategy in identifying and establishing areas in which city tourism could flourish.
"Dar es Salaam has unique assets and facilities that could be a huge revenue source if well developed and promotedÉ this will help us to maximize the tourism sector's potential," he said. Some of the assets that may attract visitors and tourists to Dar es Salaam include museums, cultural places, beaches, zoos and restaurants, it notes.
Latest figures issued by the Bank of Tanzania (BoT) show the country's earnings from tourism are about over $1.3 billion. However, experts argue that much higher earnings could be obtained by unlocking touristic potentials in urban areas.