Arusha — Tanzania is among the top ten countries in Africa which have recorded the fastest growth in tourism.
Within eastern Africa, Tanzania only trails Kenya and Ethiopia and South Africa, Mauritius, Seychelles, Botswana and Namibia in the Southern Africa Development Community (Sadc) region.
The Travel and Tourism Competitive Index 2019 report just released by the Jumia Africa Hospitality Group indicated that Tanzania is 10th in the tourism growth ranking of over 50 African states.
"African countries (including Tanzania) are now reaping the benefits of positive policy changes coupled with increased investments in the sector," the report reads in part.
With the number of expected tourists to the country estimated at 1.5 million this year, tourism remains one of the fastest-growing sectors of the economy.
For years, Tourism has accounted for 17 per cent of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) - and is the leading sector in foreign exchange earnings. Last year, it generated over $2 billion (about Sh4.6 trillion).
Africa recorded a seven per cent rise in the number of tourist arrivals last year, during which 67 million tourists visited the continent, making it the second fastest growing tourism region after Asia-Pacific.
The report said Africa is increasingly becoming an attractive destination due to reforms taken to improve the ease of hotel investments and air transport connectivity. Ethiopia, for instance, has overtaken the hitherto-leading tourist destinations in the continent - mainly in north and southern Africa - to become Africa's fastest-growing travel country, thanks to its unrivalled airline.
Improved flight connectivity has seen Bole International Airport in Addis Ababa transformed into a regional transport hub, overtaking Dubai as the world's gateway to Africa.
This, according to the report,has resulted in Ethiopia becoming Africa's fastest growing travel country, growing by 48.6 per cent last year.
Other countries, which recorded high growth of tourist visits include the North African giants, Morocco and Tunisia
Although Rwanda, Uganda and Mozambique are not among the top 10, they have been credited for making their countries' least restrictive to tourists and business visitors.
Rwanda alongside with Kenya and South Africa have seen the potential of diversifying the travel sector through taking initiatives to position themselves as locations for conferences and exhibitions.
Reforms taken in Africa's travel industry, according to the report, have triggered investments in hotels,lodges, ground transport and air charters.
Business expenditures accounted for 29 per cent of tourism spending while leisure spending accounted for 71 per cent, showing the growth potential of tapping into leisure travellers.
"This is an emerging group in the tourism market - those primarily travelling for business, but staying on for leisure," the report said, noting, however, that the continent's share in the global tourism remains small.