"THOU shall not kill the goose that lays you golden eggs," so goes an old adage in reference to a folktale in which a couple owned a goose that laid a golden egg every day. The couple prospered but later on greed began to take a heavy toll on them.
One day, the man said, "Why wait for one little egg every day? There must be a great store of gold inside this goose. If I kill it, I can have it all now." And so he killed the goose, only to find that there was nothing unusual inside her. And that, of course, was the end of the supply.
In his greed, he destroyed the source of their good fortune. The old adage seemed to be on the mind of the Deputy Minister for Natural Resources and Tourism, Lazaro Nyalandu, when he was delivering a speech on award night organized by the Tanzania Society of Travel Agents (TASOTA) in Dar es Salaam recently to recognize some players in the travel and tourism industry for their outstanding services in 2012.
Hundreds of travel agents and tour operators as well as representatives of local and international airlines and tourist hotels gathered at a leading Dar es Salaam hotel for the award event which is organized annually.
The Deputy Minister for Natural Resources, Lazaro Nyalandu, used the occasion to reiterate the government's commitment to protect the travel and tourism sector, one of the key drivers of economy that is enjoying a robust growth for more than a decade.
He pledged that the government would not overburden the sector with taxes and would work out ways to cut off excessive bureaucracy in dealing with issues pertaining to the industry.
"We will do everything to ensure that the industry is not overtaxed... We will protect this industry and we will continue to do so," he said. The Deputy Minister said the government recognized the role of travel and tourism in the growth of the economy of the country and in providing employment opportunities to Tanzanians.
He said the government was keen to formulate policies that will support the growth of the travel and tourism sector. "We will work with you. Together we will formulate better policies including the issue of taxes... We are willing to go out of our way to have it done," he said.
Mr Nyalandu further said the government was keen to work with the private sector to raise standards of service delivery in the tourism sector to make the country a force to reckon with in the international tourism arena.
"In order for Tanzania to become a force to reckon with in the international tourism arena, our service levels and service delivery must be par excellence," he said. He said the government would focus on China as the potential market of tourists so as to double the number of tourists arriving in the country.
The Deputy Minister said the government would undertake various tourism promotional strategies to the Chinese market to tap the big-spending potentials of Chinese holiday makers. "We will venture the Chinese market... we will go to the East while preserving our traditional market," he observed.
According to the Deputy Minister, China has recently overtaken the West as the source of biggest-spending tourists in a number of countries. Tourism, together with mining and construction industry, have revitalized growth of the East Africa's second economy that relies heavily on the underperforming agriculture.
It is growing at a steady rate to place Tanzania among the leading tourist destinations in the East African region. Latest data show that the number of tourists that visited Tanzania in 2012 reached 1,077, 058 from 867,994 recorded in 2011, equivalent to 24 per cent increase.
According to the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC), the direct contribution of travel and tourism to GDP in Tanzania is expected to be 4.5 per cent of total GDP in 2011, rising by 6.6 per cent per annum to 4.7 per cent in 2021.
At the same time, its total contribution to GDP, including wider economic impacts, is forecast to rise by 6.6 per cent per annum from 12.9 per cent of GDP in 2011 to 13.4 per cent by 2021. The direct contribution of the sector to employment is estimated at 377, 000 direct jobs in 2011 (3.7 per cent of total employment), rising to 497,000 jobs (3.9 per cent) by 2021.
When this is broadened to include jobs indirectly supported by the industry, the figure rises from 1,124, 000 jobs (11.2 per cent of total employment) in 2011 to 1,477,000 jobs (11.7 per cent) by 2021. However, despite its steady growth, poaching is the real threat to the sector, now second most valuable to the economy.
The Tanzanian Wildlife Research Institute has reported that there may be as many as 30 elephants being poached per day. This is believed that it may contribute to a declining tourism economy over the last two years. Tanzania has the second largest herd of elephants in Africa after Botswana.
According to the wildlife institute, there are about 70,000 elephants, mainly concentrated in the world's largest game park and Unesco World Heritage Site, the Selous Game Reserve, and in the Serengeti, Katavi, Enduimet and Ugalla reserves.
Much of the demand for ivory is in Asia, especially China, luring poachers across Africa to slay the giants and cut out their tusks for rewards far beyond the daily wage. According to CITES, the international body that monitors endangered species, the illegal ivory trade has more than doubled since 2007.
Environmentalists in the United States of America have called on President Jakaya Kikwete to crack down on the elephant poaching epidemic and rampant illegal ivory trade in Tanzania. President Kikwete is in a tour of US and Canada where he was scheduled to attend a private meeting on conservation.
"The slaughter of Tanzania's elephants is threatening the billion dollar tourism industry and the thousands of jobs underpinned by revenue from tourists from around the world wishing to witness Tanzania's spectacular wildlife heritage," said Allan Thornton, president of the Environmental Investigation Agency, an international campaigning organization.
"We appeal to President Kikwete to urgently confront this crisis and put an end to the atrocities being inflicted on the nation's majestic elephant herds," he added. As the man in the proverbial tale, the poachers are killing our elephants and rhinoceros for their insatiable demand for ivories. For how long will they continue to kill the goose that lays golden eggs?