The recent arrival of the bombadier planes has been heralded quite extensively in connection with the tourism growth in Tanzania. Much has been argued that at least now the tourism industry has received a shot in the arm that seemingly was lacking in the recent past.
Henceforth, Air Tanzania's performance will come into sharp focus on its role on tourism growth among other issues. For sure, the Bombadier planes are a saving grace which will tip the scale towards more tourists and better air travel for one and sundry inside and outside Tanzania.
Writing in the ATC Safari Njema magazine of Oct-Dec 2016, Devota Mdachi,TTB CEO said "We are excited to see that the Wings of Kilimanjaro are back and look forward to seeing ATC spreading its wings in and out of Tanzania."
Tourism with 17 per cent of Tanzania GDP, is highly ranked after agriculture at 25 per cent of national GDP. Yet not much was done to give it muscle to play its role meaningfully.
As a result, the targeted number of one million tourists per year that was reached has been argued and doubted by some stakeholders on tourism like the Tanzania Tour Operators (TATO).
This can be seen in the recent wrangle between TTB and TATO on the achieved target of one million tourists with each coming with counter explanations and versions that all shows the sectoral players do not speak from the same page.
When we look over our shoulders, our neighbours have taken this tourism industry to new level resulting in many more tourist arrivals, more flights into their airports and hotel occupancy registering high percentage.
With 16 national parks 25 game & forest reserves, Tanzania is endowed with a good variety of tourism resources besides long beaches, rich flora and fauna and not to mention the unique Mount Kilimanjaro, the roof of Africa.
And no country in East and Central has a better comparative advantage than Tanzania, when an inventory of tourism resources is made. Virtually every region in Tanzania has the big five animals namely the lion, elephant, giraffe, rhino, and leopard.
Much as Tanzania outpaces other countries in terms of tourist attractions, it is however, overshadowed by the competitive advantage of other countries due to the role and levels of tourism developments by other stakeholders like graded hotels, infrastructural developement, highly trained tourism and hospitality personnel.
Thriving on about 800 gorrilla population in western region forests, Rwanda and Uganda, each, host more than two million tourists per year while Tanzania has about one milion and two thousands tourists only against a myriad of tourist attractions.
Gone are the days when a foreign tourist would visit our country for sand, sea and sun, a traditional menu that Europeans, Americans and other foreigners saw in our country.
There are many tourism developments over the years, globalisation and change of taste (consumerism). A more sophisticated agenda is now on offer like cultural and community tourism.
Tanzania is yet to embrace these more extensively even as the potential is huge and would be a game- changer to a country that prides itself on rampant peace and unity among its citizenry.
With over one hundred and twenty tribes,the potential is immense on cultural tourism. The arrival of the bombadier planes will offer a considerable contribution as tourists will reach every culture.
The devil is in the details - Marketing is one key area that needs a close look. A close scrutiny of TTB budget shows financial hiccups to efshows financial hiccups to efshows financial hiccups to ef fectively carry out its marketing strategy, let alone tactical campaigns of attending tourism exhibitions abroad.
The relationship between TTB and other close stakeholders like the Tanzania Society of Travel Agents, Tanzania Air Operating As sociation, Hotel Association of Tanzania (HAT) Tanzania Association of Tours Operators (TATO) is not regulated sufficiently.
Much less, the relationship between TTB and the National Tourism College seems vague, virtually each playing its song in their own fashion. A seamless working relationship is needed if tourism growth must be seen to impact on our economy.
The National Tourism College, with its slogan of a ladder to excellence, needs also to grow its capacity before it can be engaged fully.
Let other tourism stakeholders recognise this government initiative and give the national tourism college support and role in not only hiring graduates from this institution but also sponsoring some activities with an express ambition of capacity buildng and tourism boost.
Like the ATC , the college also is a national symbol of our pride. If it is true that in this strategy it takes two to tango in tourism then a sober look must be given to the historicity of Air Tanzania Corporation, given that it has suffered a long history of setbacks both in terms of limited number of operational planes and top management turn-over.
These are turbulent times for many airlines in Africa, and very few national and private airlines can tell you of glorious days when optimal sales and profit are easy to come by and so relief is sought in cooperation and joint ventures with other seasoned airlines.
Planes are managed by people and tourist ventures are also serviced by people but herein lies a big gulf of differences and pertinent challenges. No one would like to see Air Tanzania Corporation fall again from grace to grass, given the financial and moral support by the visionary fifth government.