Chinese ambassador gives tips on improving Tanzania's tourism industry

As Tanzania seeks to boost its tourism industry, the government has been advised to direct more financial support to the sector so as to spur economic growth. 

More importantly, it is advised to further promote domestic tourism as it is essential for creating more employment opportunities, raising incomes and helping the poverty-struck areas.

The advice was given recently by the ambassador of the People’s Republic of China to Tanzania, Lu Youking  when reacting to experiences by Tanzanian women journalists who just came back from a study tour in China.

“There is great potential in Tanzania’s tourism industry. And speeding up reform of this industry has important meaning for boosting employment, increasing incomes, helping poverty-struck areas get rich and promoting stable economic growth,” he said.

The study tour was aimed at giving the journalists a first-hand picture of the developed and developing part of China and lessons for Tanzania from the Far East Asian nation.

When asked for the reason behind China’s tourism industry success, he said, one has been to offer maximum financial support to players to develop the sector.

He said for Tanzania’s tourism industry to develop, local governments must increase investment in tourism infrastructure in order to boost regional tourism.

The envoy also proposed a plan whereby tourism companies are encouraged to list on the stock market and get loans and other financial support that could be given to small firms operating in the sector, especially at village levels.

However, he lauded the government’s recent efforts to promote domestic tourism.

In particular, he praised the “Tembelea hifadhi na uzawadike” campaign, literally meaning ‘Make a tour to parks and get a prize’ which was launched by Tanzania National Parks Authority (Tanapa) beginning last month.

The five-month campaign ends in December this year.

He said the tourism industry can develop domestic industry which can expand home demand, drive the development of related industries, promote the adjustment of industrial structure and upgrade, and promote the transformation of economic growth mode.

“Therefore it’s important for the government to prioriotise domestic tourism,” he said.

Since 1995, under the presidency of Benjamin Mkapa, the tourism industry has been increasing at a rate of around 10 per cent per annum and today, most tourists come directly to Tanzania, with only 20 to 30 per cent coming via Kenya.

Tourism plays a key role in the country's economy; it is one of the main sources of foreign exchange and it offers employment opportunities both directly (supporting around 198,557 direct jobs) and indirectly.

Tourism accounts for around 16 per cent of Tanzania’s GDP and nearly 25 per cent of total export earnings. According to the Bank of Tanzania’s (BoT) Monthly Economic Review for the month of August last year, Tanzania tourism industry became the largest foreign exchange earner after gold incomes fell significantly as a result of lower world prices for the commodity.

The industry had recorded an increase of 12.3 percent the previous year.

BoT confirmed that the country earned nearly USD2bn from tourism receipts in the year between July 2013 and June 2014.