Arusha — MINISTER for Natural Resources and Tourism Professor Jumanne Maghembe has ordered the immediate arrest of a tour company proprietor over allegedly conning Canadians of 12,000 US dollars (about 27m/-).
But, the minister declined to disclose the name of the alleged perpetrator and company, reaffirming the government commitment to revamp the sub sector that earns the nation substantial foreign exchange and never tolerating individuals bent on disrupting the sector.
He pointed out that the government is closely watching all sectors and is determined to flush out all conmen hell-bent on damaging the country's image.
Prof Maghembe said the tour company owner should tentatively be treated as an economic saboteur, stressing, however, that all legal procedures be observed. He was speaking at Lake Nyasa Exhibition Hall where certificates were presented to hotel owners and managers from Arusha and Manyara region.
The minister charged that the Canadian family was swindled the money despite travelling all the way from the North American nation only to arrive in the country and there was nobody to offer the services they had paid for.
He remarked, "We have a case...the Canadian family has travelled from their country for tourism here after paying the Arusha tourist company some 12,000 US dollars but when they arrived at the airport, they found nobody and up to now there is no communication from the company.
"I now order the arrest of the company owner for economic sabotage charges and I will make follow ups on this issue to its conclusive end. The government is not ready to see tourism decline due to misdeeds by few fraudsters. We are looking for them and will act swiftly to redress the situation," said the infuriated minister.
Prof Maghembe revealed that several businesspersons and companies were under surveillance and if proven to be engaged in foul play, the government will revoke their licenses and prosecute them."
He also pointed out that some tour operators were involved in shoddy businesses, citing one company that entered into an agreement with, and was paid by a tourist for five-day holiday business in different destinations.
He explained, however, that the guide changed the mission, trimming the visit to only three days, robbing the tourist of his two-day rights of sightseeing that would have increased revenue to the country.
"This is business and a very serious business for the country; the government is keen on the quality of service; so, you businessmen in the sector must be honest to your customers.
Let us do business in a very clean way and our businesses will be sustainable; do not receive funds from tourists and do things that are not cited in the deals.
I won't allow fraudsters flourish in this industry; we will deal with them, do not hide swindlers as they will destroy your business," the minister told the stakeholders. Prof Maghembe said stakeholders in the sector must maintain high quality of accommodation facilities, to facilitate value for money.
He said the star-rating was a marketing tool and offers a benchmark and motivation to offer consistent services and prices, adding that those who received ratings below expectations should strive to improve their facilities.