Tanzania tourism sector review
Tanzania’s tourism sector grew over the past decade by 300 percent, attracting more than one million visitors annually, the majority come for a wildlife safari. The Government of Tanzania is focused on developing the country as a multi-center tourism destination. Diversification and investment, especially in the “Southern Circuit” which include the Ruaha and Selous game reserves, the beaches to the south, and the Katavi area, focused on nature and adventure travel, could result in significantly increased arrivals and revenue.
According to a 2018 Oxford Business Group report, the tourism industry is booming and it is expected to be among one of the world’s fastest growing over the next decade. The leading source of international tourists is the United States and with a total of 107,361 tourists coming from North America. The US alone accounted for 81 per cent of the visitors in 2017. With 1.28m tourist arrivals in 2016, the country is already one of the most-visited destinations in sub-Saharan Africa, and attractions such as the Serengeti National Park and Zanzibar have an increasingly prominent global profile.
The United Republic of Tanzania is the 2nd largest country in the SADC Region and the 1st biggest in East Africa. Tanzanians are well known for their hospitality, open and jovial sense of humor, friendly approach and generosity to foreigners. The people are endowed with a wealth of culture, history and artistic talent that has put Tanzania on the world map as one of the leading nation in that respect.
In 2014, the direct and indirect contribution of tourism was 14% of Tanzania’s GDP. This sector generally generated 12% of the country’s total employment (over 1m jobs) and directly employed 467,000 Tanzanians (4.3% of total employment). Tanzania is the 7th most visited country in Sub-Saharan Africa after South Africa (9.5m), Zimbabwe (1.9m), Mozambique (1.7m), Uganda (1.27m), Kenya (1.26m), and Namibia (1.2m). 81% of the total number of tourist arrivals in Tanzania visited the country for leisure and holiday with most of the visitors coming from Africa (46%) and Europe (32%).
The government aims to attract 3m annual visitors by 2022, and is in the process of drawing up the first new national tourism strategy in nearly two decades, which is expected to include a focus on high-value segments and infrastructure development. Private investment in hotels and resorts is driving growth, while government infrastructure investment is opening up new areas of the country to tourism. However, the industry continues to face challenges, including the recent imposition of value-added tax and the effects of austerity on business demand.
But on the good side, the governments revamped Air Tanzania is adding in Boeing 787 and Q400 in 2019 to boost the numbers coming into Tanzania.
The sector has been depending mostly on wildlife, but now the government and other stakeholders are proposing an expansion to include conference and meeting tourism.
As the country starts to capitalize on its huge potential, and private and public investments strengthen its advantages as a destination, Tanzania’s tourism industry is expected to be among one of the world’s fastest-growing over the next decade, according to the WTTC.
Along with the island of Zanzibar, Tanzania’s national parks and game reserves are considered its greatest tourism asset, and are important revenue earners for the government. These protected areas are vast – 233,300 sq km, or 28% of Tanzania’s territory – and include 16 national parks, 38 game reserves, 17 game controlled areas and the Ngorongoro Conservation Area. Among the most famous are the Serengeti National Park, where the world’s largest terrestrial mammal migration takes place, and Kilimanjaro National Park, home to Africa’s highest mountain.
Kilimanjaro, the Ngorongoro, the Selous and Serengeti National Park are among Tanzania’s seven UNESCO World Heritage sites, the others being cultural attractions: Zanzibar Stone Town, the rock paintings of Kondoa and the ruins of Kilwa Kisiwani.
Tourism is Tanzania’s leading foreign currency earner and a key economic sector accounting for 25 per cent of its revenues.
Locally, Kenyan citizens contribute a huge chunk of African tourism to Tanzania. Other markets include neighboring Zambia and the Great Lakes countries – comprising Burundi, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania and Uganda – as well as South Africa, which has a substantial holiday making middle class.
Trophy hunting is a booming business in Tanzania. Hunting in Tanzania is presently permitted and regulated by the Wildlife Conservation act of 2009, and its subsidiary regulations. The hunting industry has grown considerably in the last two decades and Tanzania is among the leading hunting destinations in the world.
The bottom line for Kenyan investors and tourist is that there is still a huge business potential in the neighboring country. The influx of Kenyans to Tanzania opens up opportunities for events, festivals and culturally binding facilities that will keep attracting the Kenyan middle class. It has this exotic nature of travel, let alone the trophy hunting that is not so common in Kenya.