In response to the 15 percent shortfall that the Tanzania tourism industry has recently registered, the government has formed a task force to assess the situation and to develop various strategies in order to help alleviate the problem, which has been attributed to the growing global financial crisis.
Included in the task force will be members of the private as well as the public sectors.
The tourism industry in Tanzania, which supplies approximately 20 percent of the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP), was expected to receive 500,881 visitors to its national parks between July and December of last year, but instead only recorded 425,137 visitors, including climbers, at the 15 national parks in the country.
The Tanzania National Parks Authority (TANAPA) has released statistics which suggested that the nearly 16 percent shortfall could be mainly attributed to the recent decline in the number of visitors to the country.
In fact, most of the latest income that was generated by tourism was generated by visitors who came to Tanzania primarily for the purpose of game viewing in Arusha, Gombe, Katavi, Kilimanjaro, Kitulo, Lake Manyara, Mahale, Mikumi, Mkomazi, Ruaha, Rubondo, Saadan, Serengeti, Tarangire and Udzungwa national parks.
Overall, over the last year, the tourism industry generated Tshs 41.6 billion, which is less than the anticipated budget of at least Tshs 49.9 billion.
According to Maria Mmari, the Director of Tourism in the Ministry of Natural Resources and Tourism, the preliminary findings of the task force have shown a reduced number of visitors to the country from two of its primary market hubs in the USA and in Europe, which together account for approximately 80 percent of the country’s visitors.
Ms. Mmari went on to say that, as a result of the global financial crisis, the potential that these countries had as markets for the promotion of tourism in Tanzania has also been affected.
However, Ms. Mmari also said that some visitors who had already made travel arrangements from these locations prior to the financial crisis have not yet changed their plans for this month and next other than to, perhaps, downgrade their flight arrangements.
Nevertheless, reports have indicated that there has been a decline in the number of visitors to the national parks and various lodgings throughout the country.
In order to combat this crisis, Ms. Mmari indicated that there was a need to explore new markets.
In addition, according to a recent report in the Daily News, industry sources have indicated an immediate need to launch a variety of awareness campaigns that include the various media and tourism partners and also focus on the value of the tourism products in key market areas so as to maintain the current shape of the industry.