M a r k e t N e w s

Tanzania eyes 2 million tourist arrivals by 2017

Posted on : Tuesday, 16th September 2014

 The number of tourists visiting the country is expected to double to 2 million by 2017, according to the Tanzania Tourist Board (TTB).

“We expect to reach 2 million tourist arrivals by 2017,” Reuters news agency quoted TTB acting managing director Devota Mdachi as saying at the weekend. “With more international airlines flying into Tanzania ... improved infrastructure, increased tourism investments and marketing, we can reach that target,” she said.

Tourist arrivals broke the 1 million-barrier for the first time in 2012 when the number of foreign visitors surged 24 per cent. The number rose 1.7 per cent in 2013 to 1.095 million, bringing in $1.85 billion (Sh3.15 trillion). Most of the visitors came from Britain, Germany, the United States and Italy.

A surge in visitors to Tanzania in the past two years has chipped away at Kenya’s dominance and boosted Tanzania’s ambitions to become a regional tourist hub. The steep increase in the number of tourists poses a direct challenge to regional rival Kenya where militant attacks have scared away visitors.

Tourist arrivals in Kenya slid last year to 1.5 million after an all-time high of 1.8 million in 2011. In the first quarter of 2014 the number of visitors dropped 4 per cent compared to 2013. A leading Kenyan hotel chain said the real figures were worse.

Frequent attacks by Somali militants have had a devastating effect on Kenya’s tourism industry, scaring away tourists, some of whom looked elsewhere for tropical beaches and wildlife safaris. Some Western tourists have found that due to their governments’ travel advisories about the security situation, their travel insurance does not cover them for the Kenyan coast.

Zanzibar has experienced sporadic security problems, with a series of bomb attacks over the past year, targeting mosques, churches and restaurants, and acid attacks on a Catholic priest and two British teenagers last year which were blamed on Islamist militants.

But one tour operator in Zanzibar said the archipelago had benefited from the fact that the problems were worse in Kenya. “A lot of tourists who have cancelled their trips to (the Kenyan port city of) Mombasa are now coming to Zanzibar and that’s something that’s good for the local tourism industry.”

The impact on Kenya’s woes on Tanzania has been mixed. While some operators say tourists are switching from Kenya to Tanzania, others say they are suffering due to the fact that Nairobi remains an air transit hub for the whole region.

“The Kenya security issues have impacted negatively on Tanzania ... as 30-40 per cent of tourists visiting Tanzania come through Kenya due to the fact that Kenya has more international carriers,”Reuters quoted Ms Lathifa Sykes, CEO of the Hotels Association of Tanzania (HAT), as saying.

She said Tanzania’s tourism industry had the potential for further growth over the coming years, but investments were stifled by a complex and unpredictable tax regime, limited tourism infrastructure and inadequate marketing and branding. Growth of 9 per cent a year since 2010 could be accelerated to 20 per cent a year if the government worked more closely with the private sector, Ms Sykes said.

Tourism employs about a third of Tanzania’s work force and contributed 13 per cent of its gross domestic product (GDP) in 2012, making it a vital industry for a nation of 45 million people that needs more jobs.

Like other African nations, tourist officials are now worried that fears about the spread of the Ebola virus, which has decimated tourism and other business in West Africa, could have knock on effects on the other side of the continent.

“The message that we’ve been putting across is that this disease (Ebola) has not entered Tanzania and so far we have not had any cancellations,” said Ms Mdachi, adding that airlines for now were saying their flights were still full.

Source : www.theeastafrican.co.ke
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