Tanzania needs to unleash its Tourism industry
Unnoticed and perhaps under-appreciated, Tanzania’s tourism sector has grown steadily in recent years. International tourist arrivals have increased by an average of 6 percent to 9 percent a year and last year earned the country almost $1.5 billion in foreign exchange.But the real star of the country’s tourism sector is domestic travel, which last year generated $2.4 billion for the economy according to recent economic estimates. Much of this growth has been led by the private sector as domestic travel companies have opened new routes and hoteliers have followed. As with many other sectors in Tanzania, tourism is hampered by a lack of proper infrastructure and connectivity but that is fast changing. Mwanza will open an expanded airport very soon, which means more tourists, but it is by no means the only destination worth visiting in Tanzania. According to Tourism and Creative Economy research, tourism is now a national priority within the government. Tourism does, after all, directly contribute significantly to gross domestic product and indirectly contribute 12 percent of the country GDP.
The sector is a major job creator, accounting for 16 percent of the labor force according to an independent research conducted two years ago by a British firm. What’s more, people entering the tourism sector require little training and can start work almost immediately, unlike in banking and telecom, where entry levels are tougher. Even so, the Tanzania government’s plan to incorporate tourism classes in vocational high schools would be a good move as such plans could help support the industry. Longer term, however, the government must continue to build infrastructure to support tourism. The time has come to hand domestic tourism marketing to the regional authorities which could help shift the responsibility and costs on to the states. As an export sector, it is Tanzania number one services export which since the global financial crisis, has witnessed three years of inbound growth and two years of domestic growth. Your blogger feels its time to really start promoting tourism among the more sophisticated tourists, who really value the experience in Tanzania.