LAST weekend a group of 170 tourists from Israel arrived in the country to visit several national parks and other game sanctuaries including Arusha, Lake Manyara and Serengeti.
The arrival of Israeli tourists is highly welcome because Israel is not among traditional sources of tourists who come to Tanzania, fondly known as the Land of Kilimanjaro and the spice islands of Pemba and Zanzibar.
According to the Ministry of Natural Resources and Tourism, tourist arrivals in Tanzania in 2012 were recorded at 1,077,058, which represented a fair rise from 867,994 registered in 2011.
The records further show that 61 per cent of tourists visiting Tanzania traditionally come from the United States, United Kingdom, Italy, France, Germany and Spain.
It is understood the government and other relevant institutions are currently executing various strategies designed to promote the country as a major tourist destination.
The focus of the strategies include Asian nations such as Japan, China and some Gulf states. It is thus encouraging to note that Israel, a nation in the Middle East is now among the list in tourist arrivals.
Much as tourist arrivals consistently continued to register an upward trend, despite many economic, social and political challenges in countries, where tourists come from, there was a drop in tourist arrivals from countries such as Spain, Italy and some parts of Europe which were hit by serious economic crises that drew concern of institutions like the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF).
Tanzania is now striving to diversify the tourism market by going beyond traditional sources. There is evidence that China, Japan and the Arab world can be good sources of tourists.
Promotion of tourism should also shift its focus from the northern circuit since there are many attractions that are spread all over the country. Tanzania boasts of a long coastline stretching from Tanga Region in the north to Mtwara, where there are pristine beaches.
The country is blessed with some of the world's highly diversified national parks such as Katavi, Ruaha and Mahale. There are places like Selous, which are famous for big herds of elephants, rhino and lions.
It is hoped that relevant authorities that are responsible for promotion of tourism are going to be more aggressive to facilitate increased arrivals and earnings.