According to a recent report by The Citizen, a current tourism project located in Mto wa Mbu in the country’s Arusha Region, which has been designed to support and promote cultural tourism in the Tanzania tourism industry, has also been chosen to serve as a model for current and future projects in other areas throughout the country.
Mto wa Mbu is a fast-growing township in northern Tanzania at the foot of the Great Rift Valley escarpment and, over the past seven years, this Mto wa Mbu project has increasingly become an attraction for visitors to the country as well as a serving as a significant source of revenues.
In addition to the Mto wa Mbu project, 26 other projects are also currently being organized, implemented and maintained by the Cultural Tourism Program (CTP) in an effort to take full advantage of the tourism potential in the country’s cultural relics.
The CTP was originally begun in 1997 under the guidance and support of the Dutch organization, SNV.
SNC managed the program until 2002, at which point it was taken over by the Tanzania Tourist Board.
According to The Citizen, the program coordinator for the CTP, Mary Lwoga has recently told reporters that between 2002 and 2007, the total number of visitors to the Mto wa Mbu grew from 1,116 to 4,094.
Officially, the site at Mto wa Mbu was one of the first cultural heritage projects to be established under the CTP, which is currently based out of the Natural History Museum in Arusha.
In addition, Ms. Lwoga also explained that reason for the current push in cultural tourism was because the Government sees it as having the potential to boost the overall profits generated by the tourism sector, which is currently the leading sector in the country’s foreign exchange earnings.
“Cultural tourism is much broader than historical sites and curio shops,” she said, “In this case, visitors have to be exposed the typical lifestyles of the local communities, their traditional food, dressing, dances and so on.”
Ms. Lwoga went on to explain that, since the launch of the CTP, the country had been more able to take advantage of its rich cultural heritage containing more than 120 different ethnic groups, by attracting approximately 30,000 foreign tourists a year to its 27 sponsored sites.
“The CTP provides visitors with authentic cultural experiences that combine nature, scenery, folklore, ceremonies, dances, rituals, tales, art, handicrafts and hospitality and give a unique insight into their way of life,” said Ms. Lwoga.