by Mark Gillies:
Murder of Father Mushi
Resuming my report after a gap of two issues, it is with regret that I lead with the sad story of the murder of the Roman Catholic priest, Father Evarist Mushi, shot dead at the entrance to his church on Unguja in February (see article on Religious Tensions for more details). In addition to the personal tragedy that is the death of Father Mushi, the incident contributes to a growing discourse on the alleged growing radicalisation of East African Islam and the increase in religious tension between Islam and Christianity. Such discourse, whether accurate or not, is to the detriment of Tanzania in general and Zanzibari tourism in particular.
Although there have been other seemingly similar incidents on the mainland, it remains unclear whether the Zanzibar incident can be attributed to a local dispute over land ownership or to a wider issue of religious tension.
British Airways pull out of Tanzania
British Airways have decided to discontinue their direct flights to Dar es Salaam from London Heathrow, effective from 1 April 2013. Despite being the only direct flights from the UK into Dar, the route was deemed to be no longer commercially viable.
Kenya Airways look to be the immediate beneficiary as they now offer the best connections and, generally, good value fares. However, industry insiders are now asking whether Virgin will fill the breach. So far, nothing has been confirmed, but watch this space.
Swahili Tourism Fair
Though the Tanzanian Tourist Board must be disappointed by the BA announcement, they had their own good news; the completion in February of an agreement between the tourism boards of South Africa and Tanzania to initiate a Swahili Tourism Fair for the first week of October. Due to be hosted at Milimani City, Dar es Salaam, the Swahili Tourism Fair will be backed by the biggest South African tourism promoter, Witch & Wizard Creative (Pty) Ltd, organisers of the hugely successful tourism ‘Indaba’ held in Durban each year.
The managing director of the Tanzania Tourist Board, Dr Aloyce Nzuki, stated that the new initiative is projected to double the number of tourists visiting the country and lead to enormous investments over five years. “Until December, last year, tourism figures stood at 950,000 foreign visitors with net earnings of $1.4 billion (about TShs2.24trillion) annually,” said Dr Nzuki at the signing ceremony. He added “we expect to attract more tourists with the implementation of the Swahili Fair during the first week of every October.”
Tanzania’s ability to increase visitor numbers and tourism-related revenue was endorsed by the success of Tanzanian destinations in the 2013 Safari Awards, when Nomad Lamai camp won ‘Best New Safari Property in Africa’ (Arusha Times). Set in the rocks of the Kogakuria Kopje in the Serengeti, the Lamai is one on the three properties constructed in the area after the government released new tenders in 2006.
The Serengeti National Park was itself recently chosen as the 2013 global winner of the International Award of the Tourism, Hotel and Catering Industry and, more significantly, was voted one of the seven wonders of the modern world. These awards and the consistently high visitor numbers testify to the popularity and importance of the Serengeti ecosystem for tourism and conservation. What impact this will have on the government’s development plans for the region remains unclear.
Miss Anna Philipo Indaya has become the first Hadzabe woman to reach the summit of Mt. Kilimanjaro. As reported by Peter Temba in the 8 March Daily News, Miss Indaya, a teacher at Endamaghan Primary School, reached the summit at 07:00 on Tuesday 5 March, accompanied by fellow Tanzanian Ashura Kayupayupa and seven Nepalese women. The Hadzabe, one of Tanzania’s smallest ethic groups, traditionally practice a hunter-gatherer lifestyle in the area of Lake Eyasi, but their lifestyle is threatened by current land use pressures. The expedition was backed by the United Nations World Food Programme, the Ministry of Natural Resources and Tourism, the Tanzania National Parks Authority and Childreach International. Well done Miss Indaya!