Tanzania Ministry of Tourism Interview

Tanzania Tourism Sector Overview

TANZANIAINVEST has been interviewing Mr. Saleh A. Pamba, Director of Tourism of the Ministry of Natural Resources and Tourism of Tanzania, to learn about the Tanzania tourism sector and about the investment opportunities that are available here.

TI: Could you provide us with an overview of the Tanzania tourism sector and its development?

Saleh Pamba – Tanzania Tourism Ministry: The tourism industry in Tanzania has been developing at a growth rate of 10% per annum since 1995.

This is when we draw the line for the proper development of tourism in Tanzania, in concomitance with the beginning of President Mpaka’s first mandate.

In terms of arrivals, we are now close to around 600,000 tourists per year from around 300,000 ten years ago.

The major focus has been basically on our traditional markets [in the] UK and Europe through aggressive marketing and promotion as well as opening up new markets in America and south-east Asia and China.

This has also been possible thanks to the increase of incoming flights to the country: BA has 3 flights a week and they have expanded the capacity of their aircrafts. KLM flies daily to Tanzania both to Kilimanjaro and to Dar es Salaam.

The coming up of Zanzibar with the historical city of Stonetown as a major tourist destination compliments the safaris in the northern wildlife area, the Serengeti and the Ngororngoro crater and, with a well developed offer of beach resorts in Zanzibar, it represents a major contribution towards the development of the tourism sector in Tanzania.

TI:
It seems that the development of the Tanzania tourism offer has been a bit erratic though, with the north heavily connected to the development of the northern part of Kenya while the south, mainly Zanzibar and some parts of the coastline, are marketed independently to different target markets. What is your opinion on that?

SP: That is history.

TANZANIA TOURISM AT-A-GLANCE
% of GDP: 16% (2005)
Growth py: 10% (2005)
Arrivals py: about 600,000 (2005)
Source markets: Europe, US
Types of tourism: safari, sun and beach

Historically, of course, the northern wildlife area was more or less developed through the Kenyan tourist market but we have increased in flights and in promotion.

Now, most of the tourists come directly to Tanzania.

Initially, it used to be around 50% of our tourists coming via Nairobi, but now it’s only 20% to 30% come via Kenya and most of tourists fly in directly because of the flights we now have.

TI: What makes the Tanzanian tourism offer different from its direct competitor, Kenya?

SP: We both have wildlife, but I think what is important is the quality of our national parks, which are well maintained and managed and where one can be able to spot in a safari as many animals as possible.

If you go to Ngorongoro crater, for example, you will definitely be able to see the big five.

In this way, the value of the safaris in our national parks is really very great.

Apart from that, we also combine the wildlife offer with Zanzibar and its rich history.

So that makes it a unique safari to Africa.

TI: Tanzania is considered an expensive destination. Why is that?

SP: The flights could be one of the main reasons, but there are also other factors that can be attributed to such cost.

One has to remember that Tanzania is a long haul destination and, as such, it tends to be expensive.

Apart from that, there is also the cost of operation that comes into play.

However, the value you get out of travelling to Tanzania, I think, is commensurate to the price you pay.

Also, our tourism policy is geared towards what we call the low volume-high yield so we are not looking at the big numbers of mass tourism market.

We are looking at up-market where we take a lot of concern for the environmental protection.

Tanzania Tourism Circuits

TI: Almost everybody agrees on the fact that the so-called Tanzania northern circuit is overcrowded. Has the Ministry conceived a specific plan to tackle this situation?

SP: Allow me to further clarify this point.

In the Serengeti Park there is a lot concentration on wildlife development surrounding the Seronero area, but now the Authority in charge of Tanzanian parks (TANAPA) is doing some reviews to the management plan.

The aim is to look at the existing situation and basically open up the other areas of the Serengeti; for example the southern and western Serengeti and so forth.

So basically, although some areas may be overcrowded, TANAPA is reviewing its general management plan to properly assess what has taken place, what are the shortfalls and what should be done to expand tourism in a sustainable manner.

TI: There is now a major desire to develop the so-called Tanzania Southern Circuit. Why is that?

SP: We did a study a couple of years ago when were looking at markets and we found that most of the tourists who come to our country would like to combine both the safaris and the beaches.

This also helps us to increase the length of stay of the tourists, which used to be less than a week and now is around twelve days.

As a country, we are lucky with 840km of coastline, which can combine very well with the wildlife safaris.{xtypo_quote_right}As a country, we are lucky with 840km of coastline, which can combine very well with the wildlife safaris.{/xtypo_quote_right}

Depending on the tourist package, tourists come for safaris and extend to beaches or the other way around.

Most of them land in Kilimanjaro International airport, but there are many that land directly in Zanzibar too, mainly charter flights from Italy and northern European countries.

They come to Zanzibar, and then they go for Safaris and eventually come back to Zanzibar for their return home.

Investment Opportunities and Framework

TI: Where would you say are the best opportunities to invest in tourism in Tanzania? What incentives are in place?

SP
: Investment opportunities are in all sub sectors of tourism in Tanzania, such as hotels construction, restaurants, air operations [and] ground operations to mention a few.

Talking about geographical location, the main focus is now our southern circuit, where you have the Selou game reserve, Ruaha, Mikumi, Udzungua, Kilua, Davukua and Zanzibar of course.

The incentives in place are basically those which have been provided by the Tanzania Investment Centre, such as no VAT on capital goods and other incentives that are provided to any investors in Tanzania.{xtypo_quote_left}The main focus is now our southern circuit where you have the Selou game reserve, Ruaha, Mikumi, Udzungua, Kilua, Davukua and Zanzibar.{/xtypo_quote_left}

TI:
Some private investors already present in the country say that the Tanzania Tourism Development strategy is too confusing to properly welcome investors. What would you say to this regard?

SP:
We are guided by a clear management plan which also takes into consideration all concerns that were raised during the latest workshop about the development of tourism in the southern circuit, where the stakeholders (private and government) were present.

Also, there is a specific management plan for Ruaha and Mikumi.

We also unveiled the infrastructure development plan of roads that have been constructed and those [that have been] planned for opening up the southern circuit.

The same applies to airstrips.

Such infrastructures will mainly [be covered] by donors and by the government because of the huge amount of money necessary.

TI:
What would you say are the biggest challenges in the further development of tourism in Tanzania towards the objective of one million tourists in the next five years?

SP:
The biggest challenge, which is obvious, is the competition in place today: Kenya, Botswana, South Africa and so forth.

They are competitors and partners at the same time.

We have not only to undergo marketing activities, but we also have to improve the standards of our services, we have to increase our capacity in terms of accommodations, we have to increase and improve our infrastructures, so the challenges are many.