by Mark Gillies
In January, the Sixth Tanzania Economic Update was published by the World Bank. The tourism industry in Tanzania generated $1.9 billion by the end of November 2014, 22% of the value of all exports in that period. Although this is impressive, the number of tourists who visited Tanzania is just 11% of those that visited South Africa in 2013.
Considering the abundant natural resources in Tanzania, the World Bank believes that expansion of the tourism sector beyond northern Tanzania and Zanzibar to include southern destinations like Pangani, Ruaha and Katavi; plus stimulation of a domestic tourism market, could increase revenue to $16 billion a year in the next decade.
Echoing this need for expansion and investment, the Minister for Natural Resources and Tourism, Lazaro Nyalandu, met representatives from the World Bank, the United States and Germany to explore ways to generate the $300 million that the Ministry have identified as being required to improve the infrastructure and tourism facilities in the Selous Game Reserve, Ruaha and Katavi National Parks. (The Guardian 27 January)
The US and German Ambassadors, plus Minister Nyalandu, had previously visited the Selous Game Reserve. This visit heralded the transfer of a significant amount of field equipment to the Reserve, improvement of infrastructure and the provision of training for rangers, all designed to assist in the fight against the poaching that currently affects the Selous. It can only be hoped that this continued international focus on combatting poaching of all kinds also affects the criminal figures controlling the trade in Tanzania who have so far avoided prosecution. (The Citizen 24 January)
Sustainable conservation of Tanzania’s natural resource is dependent upon the tourism industry. But Tanzania is not South Africa and so it is to be hoped that policy makers will develop a Tanzanian strategy for growth that draws upon international examples, but does not seek to copy them in their entirety.