STAKEHOLDERS in the tourism sector have been challenged to come up with strategies that will help to increase the number of tourists who visit the country.
Chief Secretary John Kijazi posed the challenge yesterday when he was opening the Swahili International Tourism Expo (SITE) that is taking place in Dar es Salaam.
He said Tanzania had vast tourist attractions but most of them had not been well utilised in attracting tourists and that there was a need for all stakeholders to do more and make sure the flow of tourists increased to over two million annually.
He noted that currently, the country received only 1.5 million tourists annually, the same number that Mauritius did, although the country had fewer attractions.
"Considering the number of tourist sites we have in almost every part of this country, we need to do more to bring more tourists in the country," he noted.
The chief secretary added that for the plan to be achieved, there was a need for improving infrastructures and open up all areas with tourist attractions across the country.
"We have plenty of tourist sites in every region of this country; we should therefore open every corner of our country and utilise them for tourism."
He emphasized that the number of tourists received in the country was not some thing to be proud of, and instead deliberate efforts must be made to increase the number and make the sector contribute more to the country's economic growth.
However, the chief secretary admitted that several efforts had been made to improve the sector, one of which was the Swahili International Tourism Expo.
"It is evident that this expo is being improved every year and is a great way of promoting tourism in the country," he remarked.
The growth of the tourism sector in the country is improving, with statistics indicating that it was 13 per cent for last year while the average growth worldwide was only 6 per cent.
The sector contributed 2.4bn US dollars billion to the State coffer in 2018 and contributed 17.5 per cent to the nation's annual revenues.
Eng Kijazi commended the Ministry of Tourism and Natural Resources for creative ideas that have enabled the country to continue receiving tourists from various parts of the world.
He said: "The sector is now placing our country in its proper status."
Moreover, the chief secretary used the opportunity to tell the world that Tanzania is safe and nice place for everyone to visit and stay maintaining that the recent rumors on Ebola disease should be ignored.
"I would like to assure the world that Tanzania is safe, peaceful and free from health threats. We are aware of people with ill intentions against our country; they should be ignored," he said.
Tanzania Tourist Board (TTB) Chairman Judge Thomas Mihayo said the 5th SITE edition will last for three days and that it had attracted over 200 international exhibitors from 60 countries across the world, over 300 international tourism agencies and journalists are participating.
He said the Expo is focusing on inbound and outbound travel to Africa and is expected to draw hundreds of tourism and travel professionals from all over the world.
It is taking the format of a travel and trade exhibition with a conference element focusing on topical tourism, sustainability, conservation and other market related issues, he said as he welcomed people to visit the Expo at Mlimani City.