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    Photo credit by Sabi Sabi Game Reseve, Kruger National Park, South Africa

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    Amakhala Game Reserve, Eastern Cape, South Africa

In Tanzania, all eyes are on Chinese tourists and investments

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Debating Tanzania’s annual budget for the Foreign Affairs Ministry expenditure this week, members of parliament wanted the Tanzanian government to come up with a clear policy on Chinese relations in areas of economic cooperation.

Responding to comments made by Tanzanian Foreign Minister Bernard Membe, members of parliament wanted Tanzania to take a serious note by looking at China as an emerging world economy.

The minister had told the parliament assembly that Tanzania is looking at China as an emerging, new market in key economic areas including tourism and tourist investments to this country’s diversified tourist sites.

He said Tanzania has targeted economic diplomacy to enhance and attract more tourist investments from foreign countries, China standing among a key target.

But, shadow minister from the liberal opposition CHADEMA party, Ezekiel Wenje said Tanzania had failed to attract competitive Chinese investments to key areas, including tourism which is currently, Tanzania’s leading economic sector.

Mr. Wenje said Tanzania had failed to spell out its clear policy on economic diplomacy which has taken taking over from political diplomacy once applied during the Cold War.

The liberal parliamentarian said developed nations are propagating economic diplomacy while Tanzania failed to spell out its foreign policy to attract tourists and other investments across the globe.

Wenje said Tanzania embassy staff in its Beijing mission were not competent enough to facilitate economic and business ventures in favor of this African nation.

Celebrating 50 years of Sino-Tanzania relations this year, there is an ongoing debate on best options which Tanzania could seek in order to benefit from Chinese economic ventures.

China has been recognized a best friend for the African continent through economic ventures, including travel and tourism. Kenya had taking a good opportunity to attract Chinese investments compared to Tanzania, members of the Tanzanian parliament said.

Lack of direct flights between key Chinese cities and Tanzania is a hindrance which tourist stakeholders and travel agents had noted. Shanghai and Guangzhou cities are counted the best Chinese tourist markets for Africa.

Tanzania’s share of Chinese tourists reached 13,000 visitors last year against 5,000 in 2012. A delegation of tourism officials from Tanzania visited Beijing last year to encourage Chinese investors and tourists to invest and visit this African country.

But recent data from Beijing show most of the Chinese tourists prefer South Africa, Kenya, Namibia and Egypt because of improved facilities ranging from hotels, easy air connections, ground handling and improved visitor services.

Likewise, a Chinese millionaire, Mr. Zhou Yi, is looking to build a luxurious hotel in northern Tanzania’s Serengeti National Park. Zhou declared his interest to invest in Tanzania’s tourist industry last year when speaking to a delegation of Tanzanian tourism officials in Beijing.

The Chinese millionaire who owns a very successful business company worth over US$700 million in China said he had visited Serengeti in and was attracted by the wildlife in the park’s ecosystem.

“It is a coincidence to have met here and I can assure you that I have been impressed by the park and I am now in the initial stages of applying for an investment site in the area to put up a modern accommodation facility to help increase the number of beds,” Zhou was quoted saying.

Mr. Zhou is the owner of the Hengxu Group of Companies with headquarters in Sichuan Province specializing in the production of various building materials; industrial packaging materials and financial services.

Source: Apolinari Tairo, eTN Tanzania Correspondent

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