Until 2019, the tourism sector was among the country's leading foreign exchange earners. In that year, tourism was Tanzania's biggest source of foreign exchange after bringing in $2.5 billion.
This was before the world was ravaged by the Covid-19 pandemic that brought socioeconomic activities to a virtual standstill from early 2020.
Data from the UNWTO World Tourism Barometer shows that international arrivals across the world in July 2020 stood at a mere 34 million, down from 164 million recorded in 2019.
Needless to say, Tanzania was also affected in a big way. In 2019, some 1.5 million visitors arrived in Tanzania. However, come July 2020, arrivals had plunged to only around 600,000, with receipts tumbling to $1.7 billion.
This could largely be attributed to the Covid-19 stance Tanzania had adopted then--rejecting the pathway taken by the rest of the world under the guidance of the World Health Organisation (WHO).
However, this came to change around April 2021 when the government decided to join the rest of the world in accepting that Covid-19 vaccines have a pivotal role to play in preventing serious illness and deaths.
Since then, at least some 1.3 million Tanzanians have been vaccinated. It is thanks to vaccinations that international borders are now reopening, a development that is driving the recovery of the tourism sector.
Vaccinations give international travellers the confidence to cross borders and mingle with others who have also been vaccinated.
Tanzania is also beginning to see more arrivals, and figures are likely to surpass those of 2020, with projections showing that pre-pandemic numbers may be reached by 2024.
An increase in international arrivals is good for the country's economy because the tourism sector brings in much needed foreign exchange.
Every Tanzanian must therefore play their part towards making this possible. Those who have yet to be vaccinated should do so to save their own lives and at the same time give economic recovery hopes a boost.
LET'S DO MORE ON E-WASTE
Electronic waste (e-waste) disposal is an issue that has yet to be accorded the attention and priority it deserves. Latest statistics show that Tanzania generates at least 18,000 tonnes of e-waste each year.
The pace at which the use of electronic devices is increasing means that this figure is also rising steadily. Discarded mobile telephones, computers, tablets, TV sets, DVD players, portable music players, etc, contain hazardous materials, and this calls for urgent measures to ensure that e-waste is disposed of safely.
Apparently, Tanzania still lacks effective legal and policy frameworks on e-waste disposal because used electronic gadgets are still dumped anyhow and anywhere instead of being recycled.
The relevant authorities should promptly act on the e-waste problem because it is growing relentlessly as more consumers jump on the technology bandwagon, while manufacturers design products with built-in obsolescence. The cost of spare parts for certain repairs sometimes outweigh the cost of a new replacement, thus leading to the piling up of e-waste annually.
It is heartening to note that the government, though belatedly, has finally started to take measures in response to the e-waste scourge.