Dar es Salaam — Chinese visitors are the biggest spenders among foreign tourists in Tanzania, according to the latest official data.
The 2016 International Visitors' Exit Survey published last week by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) shows that a Chinese tourist spent an average of $541 (about Sh1.2 million) per night in 2016.
This is about three times of the overall average expenditure per person per night of $178 for tourists from other countries. In 2015, the overall average expenditure was $199.
A decrease in the average expenditure per person per night is partly attributed to an increase in the number of arrivals from neighbouring countries, where expenditure is lower.
Visitors from the UK, US, South Africa, Australia, France and Canada spent above the national average of $178 per person per night, but their average expenditure was far below what the Chinese spent.
During the year under review, Tanzania received 34,472 Chinese tourists, who accounted for 2.7 per cent of all arrivals.
Chinese tourists spent an average of nine days in Tanzania in 2016, injecting Sh167.8 billion into the national economy in the process.
The number of Chinese tourists who visited Tanzania was half the number of visitors from India, about the combined total of Australian and Mozambican visitors and about ten times the number of Portuguese tourists.
According to the survey, most of the Chinese tourists were aged between 18 and 44, and mostly came for scientific and academic activities, meetings and conferences as well as leisure and holidays.
Chinese comprised 5.9 per cent of tourists who visited Tanzania for scientific and academic purposes and 3.3 per cent of visitors who came to attend meetings and conferences.
Twenty-five per cent of all tourists on hunting safaris were Chinese, while Americans had the lion's share at 46 per cent.
The report shows that Chinese tourists who visited Tanzania for business purposes stayed in the country for an average of eight days, while those who came for leisure stayed for seven days. China is rated 11th on the list of 15 main source markets on 2.7 per cent. The United Kingdom is the main source of tourists on 13.1 per cent.
The survey shows that Tanzania's tourism earnings rose by 12.1 per cent to $2,131.6 million in 2016 from $1,902.0 million recorded in 2015.