Tanzania sees tourism become top forex earner

Recently the Tanzanian government recognised a private sector initiative to drum up awareness of the country’s tourism attractions to Americans and underscore other efforts to promote the sector as a leading foreign exchange earner. 

On average international tourists stay about 10 days in the country spending a total of $1,691(Tsh.3.4 million) per visitor.

Last week, the Tanzania Investment Centre (TIC) highly commended US-based Friedkins Conservation Fund (FCF) for bringing into the economy some $100 million (Tsh.2 billion) to revamp the tourism sector.

Strategic Investment Status was awarded to the project at the beginning of September 2015 through the National Investment Steering Committee (NISC).

 NISC is chaired by the Prime Minister of the United Republic of Tanzania, Mizengo Peter Pinda. It is direct result of efforts made by President Jakaya Kikwete and his government to aggressively promote Tanzania as an ideal destination for foreign direct investment. 

National Investment Steering Committee is a Committee formed by the government in an effort to improve the business environment and foster economic growth through increased investment and it is chaired by the Prime Minister. 

So far, the government through the NISC has approved 41 Strategic Investment Projects.

Mrs. Juliet Kairuki, the Executive Director of Tanzania Investment Centre (TIC) stated that the positive sentiments demonstrated by American initiative through the Friedkins Family Conservation Fund.

It has been welcomed by the government which considers private investments both foreign and local as the engine of growth for the country.

She further stated that this was the second award of Strategic Investor Status in the tourism and wildlife conservation sector in three years and that TIC is confident that the pro-investment efforts of Minister Lazaro Nyalandu and his team at the Ministry of Wildlife and Natural Resources will yield more investments for the country. 

With this investment come with some new employment opportunities, wildlife conservation, tourism development, rural community development, infrastructure development, and innovation in areas that are currently attracting insufficient numbers of tourists such as the Western Tourism Corridor.  

Importantly, where there is a scarcity of wildlife, the investment will seek to introduce photographic and cultural tourism as means of luring resources to these areas. 

In addition to investing, FCF will work closely with the Wildlife Division of Tanzania, in the Ministry of Natural Resources and Tourism on anti-poaching initiatives and will continue to sponsor and manage a Geographic Information System (GIS) for mapping and research to compliment anti-poaching efforts.

The investment by FCF comes immediately after a United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) entitled “Enhancing Linkages between the Tourism and Sustainable Agriculture sectors” in the United Republic of Tanzania reveals that tourism and organic agriculture can help the country significantly in reducing rural poverty.

The report, is based on a pro-poor tourism analysis, and looks at ways of generating net benefits for the poor, including unlocking opportunities by building a more supportive policy and planning framework. 

Touting engagement of the private sector through pro-poor partnerships by providing jobs to local people and purchasing local agricultural products, the report adds that poor people’s food and beverages benefit from tourists spending.

‘Tourism is a notable source of income for Tanzania. On average, international tourists stay about 10 days in the country, spending a total of $1,691 (Tsh.3.4 million) per visitor,,’ the report reads in part.

The report disclosed that lodging, food and beverage sectors together account for about 20% of tourism-related income in the country which represents a large opportunity for pro-poor businesses because organic agricultural products are in high demand by tourists and often provide price-premiums to producers.

The FCF offers training, equips and employs 120 full-time field based rangers who work under the guidance of two micro light pilots, five concession managers and two mobile anti-poaching coordinators in the field. 

It’s the wildlife that this country is endowed with that attracts foreign tourists who bring in foreign currency.

“Tourism is currently the highest foreign currency earners for the country, a major employer of thousands of Tanzanians both in urban and rural areas,” remarked Nyalandu, Tanzania’s Minister of Natural Resources and Tourism.

According to Nyalandu more than one million tourists visited the country last year all this attributed to world-class tourist attractions including Mount Kilimanjaro, the wildebeest migration in Serengeti National Park and the warm sandy beaches of Zanzibar.

The Bank of Tanzania Monthly Economic Review for February 2015 indicates that tourism is now the leading foreign exchange earner, outshining gold exports, whereas in January, export performance for the country’s travel industry reached over $2.04 billion (Tsh.4 trillion), up from $1.897 billion (3.8 trillion) in the previous year, a growth of 7.8%.

Like the other Partner States of the East African Community, Tanzania continues to step up moves to encourage more tourists to visit the country.

This has also included holding talks with major airlines to offer convenient flights schedules and reduced time spent in transit.

Source: Business Week