THE biggest and most opinion building tourism fair in East Africa, Karibu-Kilifair, has started here, with the government and the parliament pledging support to the private sector in improving tourism in the country.
The commitments were made at Friedkin Recreation Center on the outskirts of Arusha city by the Deputy Minister for Natural Resources and Tourism, Mr Costantine Kanyasu and an official with the Parliamentary Committee on Land, Natural Resources and Tourism, Mr Nape Nnauye and a committee member, Reverend Peter Msigwa (Chadema).
Officiating the three-day fair that is taking place for the first time in Arusha, Minister Kanyasu commended the private sector for the good work that it has been doing in promoting tourism sector, applauding the merge of the two biggest East African tourism fairs - Karibu Fair and Kili Fair into one.
Mr Kanyasu said tourism is one of the most important sectors in the world, expounding that its enormous importance lays in the fact that it creates employment opportunities and earns the country foreign currency as it attracts foreigners to the country's tourism attractions.
"I commend you for this huge fair that in tourism, because tourism is actually one of the most important sectors of economy in the world.
Its importance is due to the fact that it creates many employment opportunities and brings us foreign earnings," said Mr Kanyasu.
The deputy minister added that the government will be working hand in hand with the private sector to improve tourism, and that it has started the task by improving infrastructure, and ensuring that air, marine and road transport is in fine shape.
He called for exhibitors and international travel agents to visit national parks during this time.
He called on them to engage in fruitful dialogue during the three days so that they can boost tourism. Co-Director of KILIFAIR Promotion Co. Ltd, Mr Dominic Shoo, said the fair has brought together more than 450 exhibitors as well as more than 500 international travel agents from 40 countries, and expectations are for more than 5,000 people to visit the grounds that were formerly known as TGT.
The new venue gives the organisers enough space to grow the fair by 60 per cent to 27,000 square metres as compared to Ushirika Grounds in Moshi where the fair was organised in the past years.
Mr Nnauye, speaking on behalf of the Chairman of Parliamentary Committee on Land, Natural Resources and Tourism, commended organisers for making the fair to be so huge, and thanked the Ministry of Natural Resources and Tourism for its concerted efforts in promoting tourism and conserving its attractions in the country.
"Parliament promises to cooperate with the private sector in its efforts to promote tourism, and if need be, will amend some laws in order to take tourism to the next level. We are so happy with participation of the private sector; we will support it and ask the government to do the same," said Mr Nnauye.
Tanzania Tourists Board Chairman, Justice (Rtd) Thomas Mihayo, termed the fair as a huge business, wishing exhibitors, travel agents and buyers good business, urging foreigners to be good ambassadors when they go back to their countries, sell Tanzania and tourism and be ready for coming back.
The Secretary General of the East African Community (EAC), Ambassador Liberat Mfumukeko, in his message, commended the fair organisers and called for exhibitors to utilise the event to the maximum, for betterment of tourism in the region, as it is the biggest tourism fair in the bloc.
Tanzania National Parks (TANAPA) is the official Prime- Partner of Karibu-Kilifair, marketing for both tourist and investors, and this year it is focused on Ruaha National Park, a jewel in the South of Tanzania.
Founded in 1964, it is Tanzania's largest national park and offers the largest population of elephants out of all East African national parks.