INSECURITY and poor safety for international travellers threaten the local tourism sector amid an absence of common laws and regulations to guide the sector.
The industry stakeholders who met in Dar es Salaam claimed that it took a considerable time to clear the country's bad image every time a tourist is hurt due to the magnitude of global media.
Tanzania Association of Tour Operators (TATO) Executive Secretary Mustapha Akunaay said the country should take deliberate moves to protect visiting foreigners to boost the tourist inflows.
"To repair the damage takes ages...without the best tourism security even the best marketing will fail," Mr Akunaay told about 50 stakeholders gathered in a Dar es Salaam hotel to put the final touches on the new tourism policy.
The envisaged policy seeks to support the creation of special judicial system for cases relating to international travellers and a separate police unit for tourists and diplomats. TATO conducted two BEST-AC financed studies on the impact of Crimes on Tourism in Tanzania and Review of Legal Framework on Safety and Security for Tourism in Tanzania 2012.
The finding proposed two actions--review of the laws, policies and regulations pertaining to security system and introducing special police unit to cater for special groups--diplomats, foreigners, tourists and travellers. "Safety and securities are vital to providing quality tourism and in tandem to this, the government should address the two recommendations," TATO Chairman Leopold Kabendera told the forum.
He said even though he had no supporting data, tourism creates many jobs, citing South Africa where for every arrival of the tourist, five jobs are created. "I think the situation is close to Tanzania as well," the Chairman said. The government, on the other hand, has already heeded the introduction of the special police unit for tourist, late last year and 60 police are under the department but fund remain an impediment to the execution of the project.
"At the moment the 60 police officers are doing patrols on foot, defeating the unit's purpose... we are looking for 80m/- for orientation course of the other 240 officers in the next budget," the Unit Commander Assistant Commissioner of Police Benedict Kitalika said.
He said the squad lacks proper gear to institute the required safety and security. So far the unit has prepared special uniform for the unit that are easily identifiable. The police are pulled from the existing police workforce but are given orientation training on how to handle the tourists.
"We are in the process of signing a memorandum of understanding with the ministry of tourism on the areas of cooperation, but judiciary also should help us on speeding up tourists related cases," ACP Kitalika said. Germany Embassy's Economic Attaché Mr Jan Gosink said the issue of safety and security of international travellers was of paramount importance and commended TATO's effort.
"(Despite) its importance is not easy to answer all questions. It needs the effort of all people... but still is quite safe to travel to Tanzania," Mr Gosink said. Various stakeholders attended the forum whose deliberations would be forwarded to the ministry of tourism and natural resource for immediate action to save the industry that contributes 17.5 per cent to GDP.
The industry is number one contributor of foreign currencies and offers about 500,000 direct jobs. In 2011, tourists arrival reached 867,994, generating 1.354 billion US dollars (2.166tr/-).