MOUNTAIN Kilimanjaro has retained its position as Africa's leading tourist attraction for the fourth year running at the World Travel Awards (WTA) 2018 gala held in Durban, South Africa, at the weekend.
Africa's highest mountain had to fend off challenges from South Africa's Table Mountain; the Pyramids of Giza in Egypt, the Robben Island of South Africa and Tanzania's Ngorongoro Crater to be honoured as the continent's leading tourist attraction.
Apart from Africa's rooftop, Tanzania's other attractions that excelled in the Oscars of the travel and tourism industry include Diamonds La Gemma dell'Est of Zanzibar which was feted as Africa's leading all-inclusive resort and Thanda Island in Mafia Island which was voted as this year's leading Luxury Island.
The Greystoke Mahale Camp in Kigoma was voted as Africa's Leading Safari Lodge in 2018.
"We have had the privilege of recognising the leading hotels, airlines and hospitality providers from across Africa and the Indian Ocean and my congratulations to each of them," said Graham Cooke, founder and President of the awards.
Attended by senior executives from major travel companies, operators, destinations, World Travel Awards are universally respected as providing established top level networking opportunities, regionally and globally.
It seeks to celebrate organisations and countries that push the boundaries of industry excellence. Next year's edition of the World Travel Awards will be held in the Portuguese archipelago of Madeira.
In her reaction to the results of the awards, Tanzania Tourist Board (TTB) Managing Director Devota Mdachi said Tanzania's recognition in the awards was a clear testimony of how rich the country was in terms of tourist attractions.
"We are very happy and excited on how Tanzania fared in the global awards; this signals the beginning of the journey we have embarked on in promoting our country," she explained.
The TTB official observed that all Tanzanians ought to be proud of the feat achieved by the country, adding that 19,341 feet mountain had put the country on the global map.
According to Mdachi, apart from Mount Kilimanjaro and the Serengeti National Park, the body charged with the promotion and marketing Tanzania's tourist destinations will now be shifting its focus on promoting the otherwise little known products.
She singled out the attractions as Apri-Tourism which involves bee keeping and harvesting, wine testing festival which is due in Dodoma next month and Cruise Tourism.
In July this year, a Resilient Natural Resource Management for Tourism and Growth (REGROW) Project was commissioned for the sole purpose of opening up the southern tourism circuit.
Funded by World Bank (WB) and implemented by Tanzania National Parks (TANAPA) to the tune of 69.7m US dollars, the six-year-project also seeks to enhance the management of landscapes, conserving and developing nature-based tourism assets, and enhancing economic benefits in and around priority Protected Areas of Southern Tanzania which include Ruaha, Mikumi, Udzungwa National Parks and Selous Game Reserve.
According to the Bank of Tanzania (BOT), tourism earnings had in April this year jumped up by over 640bn/- compared to 330bn/- the previous year.