by Paul Harrison & James L.Laizer
James Laizer has over 20 years of experience working in natural resources management in Africa, both terrestrial and marine, and both public and private sectors, and is a long term associate of Paul Harrison. He takes over the Tourism and Conservation portfolio in Tanzanian Affairs from Paul, who is stepping aside in order to focus on his role as the new Chair of the Britain-Tanzania Society. I offer my sincere thanks to both – The Editor.
Better days ahead expected as tourism sector in Tanzania continues to be strengthened
The Tanzanian tourism sector is steadily recovering from the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on employment and business. Ongoing attention to the sector by President Samia Suluhu Hassan, the wider government and other tourism stakeholders, indicate that there is an opportunity to revamp the tourism industry to drive inclusive growth over the long term, whilst promoting climate adaptation and mitigation. As part of the effort to improve the tourism sector, the Tanzanian government recently allocated nearly $39.2 million (about TSh 90 billion) of funds to mitigate the adverse impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on the travel and tourism industry. The funds are part of the $567.25 million loan approved in September 2021 by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to support Tanzania in responding to the pandemic by addressing health, humanitarian, and economic effects.
A recent television documentary initiative by President Samia Suluhu Hassan has been received positively throughout the country by tourism industry stakeholders. The Head of State’s decision to personally market Tanzania and invite an international film crew to shoot a documentary on the country’s tourism sector, is thought likely to improve awareness of Tanzanian destinations internationally and hence drive demand. The official trailer for the documentary is finally out (see https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tUV5vxlHtqc) and ‘The Royal Tour’ is showcasing at tourist, investment, arts, and cultural attractions. The documentary shows Tanzania’s Head of State in safari attire taking the audience on an adventurous tour to some of Tanzania’s most iconic landscapes including Bagamoyo in the Coastal region, Mount Kilimanjaro, iconic wildlife parks and an underwater room in Pemba.
Again, this is part of renewed efforts to make Tanzania more visible to the world and attract more foreign investors to the country and better the tourism sector for days ahead. It follows a similar initiative by President Paul Kagame of Rwanda in partnership with the same US film maker, Peter Greenberg, in 2018, titled “Rwanda: The Royal Tour”.
Serengeti once again declared Africa’s best National Park
On 21st October 2021, the World Travel Awards declared Tanzania’s Serengeti as 2021’s leading African national park as reported in the Citizen (October 21st 2021). The Serengeti was pitted against other prized African contenders such as Central Kalahari Game Reserve (Botswana), Etosha National Park (Namibia), Kidepo Valley National Park (Uganda), Kruger National Park (South Africa) and Masai Mara National Reserve (Kenya). The World Travel Awards also recognized Ngorongoro Crater and Mount Kilimanjaro among Africa’s leading destinations, meaning that three Tanzanian national parks claimed triple spots on the 2021 conservation awards list.
Tanzania won in ten different categories, including: Leading National Park, Leading Beach Destination, Leading Destination, Leading Luxury Island, Responsible Tourism Award, Leading Green Hotel, Leading Private Island Resort, Leading Safari Company, Leading Luxury Safari Lodge, and Leading Hotel Brand. This widespread recognition will help in promoting Tanzania’s tourism destinations internationally and raise conservation awareness in general.
Zanzibar remains a preferred tourist destination with its emergent blue economy drive
Zanzibar has expressed hope over an increase in tourist numbers from September 2021 onwards. Most tourists visiting Zanzibar are from Europe, particularly France and Poland, according to Tanzania Daily News. The Blue Economy agenda is a top priority for Zanzibar. For centuries, the people of Zanzibar have engaged in domestic and international ocean-based activities, though the sector has now grown in both size and significance. Blue economy activities are estimated to have contributed around 29% of Zanzibar’s GDP in 2019 and employ about a third of Zanzibar’s labour force. The Revolutionary Government of Zanzibar developed the Zanzibar Development Vision 2050 and the Zanzibar Blue Economy Policy and is in the process of developing the Zanzibar Blue Economy Strategy. Vision 2050 sets out the long-term goals and aspirations of Zanzibar and distinguishes the blue economy as a key strategic driver for realizing them. The Policy provides a guiding framework for the implementation of the blue economy, and has identified five areas of focus, namely, fisheries and aquaculture, maritime trade and infrastructure, energy, tourism, and marine and maritime governance. A key question will be whether the framework can be implemented effectively, where a drive towards increased investment will need effective engagement with the private sector, including new entrants.
Tanzania calls for financing support towards climate change mitigation
As in other parts of the world, climate change in Tanzania is affecting both the natural environment and local residents. Average temperatures in the country are rising with a higher likelihood of intense rainfall events (often resulting in flooding) and of dry spells (often resulting in drought). Water scarcity is an increasing problem and many major water bodies have had significant drops in water levels, including Lake Victoria, Lake Tanganyika and Lake Rukwa. This is having a major impact on the agriculture sector which employs the majority of Tanzanians. In light of this, and since the effects of climate change are seen as an increasing threat in Tanzania, President Samia Suluhu has called for urgent unlocking of climate change financing, warning that inaction means that countries with low adaptive capacity such as Tanzania had no option but to brace for more adverse effects.
While addressing participants in Scotland during the United Nations Climate Change Conference, COP26, President Samia Suluhu said: “What we ought to remember is when drastic climate change hits, it chooses no location, mighty, weak, poor or rich country,” and called for developed countries to scale up their financing efforts to mitigate effects of climate change by providing predictable and adequate funds to enable low-income countries to achieve ambitious sustainable development goals.