TOURISM has emerged the top foreign exchange earner last year and basing on its great potential, the sector has much to be confident about in 2014.
The Central Bank said in its latest monthly economic reviews tourism had maintained growth to become the leading earner of hard currency overtaking gold whose performance was undermined by low output and a decline in global price.
According to the report, foreign exchange earnings from tourism for 2013 were US $ 1.88 billion up from US$ 1.7 billion in 2012 and US$ 1.35 billion in 2011.
The Central Bank said in the report that gold earnings had declined in 2013 due to a fall in export volume and global price. Africa's fourth-largest gold producer earned $1.73 billion in 2013 from the precious metal, down from $2.11 billion a year before.
"The value of gold exports declined following a fall in both export volume and unit price," the Central Bank of Tanzania said in its latest monthly economic review.
"The price of gold declined mainly on account of India's action to restrict importation of gold in efforts to control its current account deficit."
Experts say the tourism sector holds great potential because of the government's resolve to diversify the source market to focus into Far East and ambitious strategies to improve transport infrastructure which include air transport, roads and railways.
Asia was one of the world's travel hotspots in 2013 mainly driven by China's strong economic growth. According to World Travel Trends Report 2013/2014 Outbound trips by Asians grew by 8 per cent over the first eight months of 2013 and outbound trips by Chinese travellers soared by 26 per cent.
Strong economic growth is also another factor that brightens the future of tourism in the country. Presently Tanzania is among a few countries in the sub-Saharan Africa with a fastest growing economy.
It has experienced strong growth rates of more than six per cent for almost a decade. The growth for 2013 was 7 per cent and it is projected it will increase to 7.2 per cent in 2014.
The potential for the sector also lies on business tourism which grows in bustling and beautiful settings due to increasing number of hotels that offer conference facilities of international standards.
The hotels now join the Arusha International Conference Centre and the newly built Mwalimu Nyerere Conference Centre to promote congress tourism in the country. International tourism trends also underscore the potential for tourism in Tanzania.
The trends show Africa is most desired among the young travellers. According to the World Travel Trend Report of 2013/2014, young people around the world are travelling more, spending more and exploring new destinations.
Youth travel was long seen as a small part of the travel and tourism industry, characterised by cheap prices and low spending. However, the picture has changed in recent years, according to diverse studies. The World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) estimates that youth travel generated US$ 182 billion in international tourism receipts in 2012, and represented more than 20 per cent of the more than one billion international arrivals.
This happens when Tanzania is increasingly being recognised as a leading tourist destination with world-class properties and luxury safari products. In 2010 The Travel and Leisure magazine's World's Best Awards 2010 shortlisted seven Tanzania hotels in the category for 20 Top Lodges and Resorts in Africa and the Indian Ocean.
Among the hotels is the Serengeti Sopa Lodge, located on the edge of the escarpment overlooking the plains of the south-western Serengeti National Park which is home to many thousands of wild and rare animals.
Others include the Ngorongoro Sopa Lodge, Ngorongoro Serena Safari Lodge, Ngorongoro Crater Lodge, Serengeti Serena Safari Lodge, Lake Manyara Serena Safari Lodge and Zanzibar Serena Inn.
The Tanzania hotels were chosen by readers of the magazine for many different aspects including value for money, facilities, accommodation standards, food and drinks, and level of service.