Egypt offers best lesson to Tanzania on tourism
TOURISM stands as a fast growing economic sector which Tanzania has been looking to create multiple effects in the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) with added value in poverty reduction initiatives.
Taking the geographic set-up and the size of Tanzania in terms of tourist attractions and other supporting sectors, tourism could be the number one foreign currency earner, while agriculture remains the milestone for the country’s economic development.
A recent visit to Egypt offered a chance to assess the impact of tourism on socio-economic development in that country, which boasts of ancient history and culture, the leading tourist magnets pulling people from all corners of the world to visit this North African destination.
The Egyptian government has been playing a primary role in ensuring swift development and fast growing of tourism.
Meetings with senior Egypt Tourism Authority officials gave an insight to the Egyptian government’s costly proactive steps to support this sector.
Through aggressive marketing campaigns, one million tourists visit Egyptian attractive sites every month, starting from October last year, the number of tourists visiting Tanzania per year.
The Egyptian tourism industry has shown signs of recovery in recent months after three years of political turmoil.
The number of nights tourists spent in Egypt had increased to 9.8 million, compared to 3.9 million nights during the same month in 2013 when political turmoil was frequently reported.
Egypt hosted a total of some 14.7 million tourists in 2010, before the country’s 2011 revolution. By 2013, this number had shrunk to 9.5 million.
The Egyptian government subsidises accommodation facility owners to enable them to keep their hotels open even with low occupancy.
Subsidies are also granted to foreign airlines, provided they continue to fly to Egypt even with only 50 per cent of the seats taken. All this was done to ensure that those who wanted to visit Egypt even at difficult times, could do so – and at much lower cost.
The Egyptians understand that the best publicity for countering travel advisories is not official assurances; rather, the Egyptian government invites people from key tourism source nations to visit the country to see and learn about the real situation at the specific time.
Egyptians fully appreciate that tourism is a pillar of their country’s economy, and must be sustained at all costs.
So during difficult times, the government steps in to provide the subsidies needed to keep tourism investors afloat.
This is done in the knowledge that so long as the tourism establishments remain open, tourism will eventually recover, and this money will return to the state in taxes and other revenues.
And of course, millions will remain in employment. Lessons from Egypt could help Tanzania to recount its tourism achievements after 54 years of independence and especially this time when stakeholders in the tourism sector are contemplating on its future as the government economic plans and strategies have been directed to tap natural gas and uranium.
During the past two years, tourism emerged to be atop of Tanzania’s leading foreign earning sector, competing with gold and agriculture.
A Bank of Tanzania report indicates tourism to have surpassed gold as the leading foreign exchange earner.
Natural gas and oil are currently dominating Tanzania’s economic and political agenda while the tourism sector has received very little attention from the policy makers.
Observers fear to see Tanzania lose its tourist splendour to natural gas.
Fifty three years ago, Tanzanian Founding President Julius Nyerere championed tourism development.
He committed to ensuring that Tanzania becomes the best African safari destination.
Covering a geographical area of 945,000 kilometres, Mwalimu Nyerere devoted 28 per cent of the country’s land for nature and wildlife protection for the purpose of tourism.
Tanzania is Africa’s leading safari destination with a brand mark of Mount Kilimanjaro, the highest peak in Africa and one among free standing mountains in the world.
Mount Kilimanjaro is the leading tourist attraction in Tanzania and a symbol of pride for the African continent, as are the Victoria Falls, Aldabra, River Nile and the Pyramids of Giza in Egypt.
Mount Kilimanjaro has been voted a New Natural Wonder of Africa, taking the second position after the Serengeti Wildebeest Migration.
The three natural wonders — the Serengeti, Mt Kilimanjaro and the Ngorongoro Crater — were also among several world natural heritage sites of global importance.
From lessons on Egyptian tourism, Tanzania can stand the leading African destination through appropriate measures such as aggressive marketing strategies and more funding in public relations, marketing campaigns at international tourism fairs as well as familiarisation trips for travel and tourist stakeholders from key, source markets. – Daily News (Tanzania)