Despite the abundance in wildlife, unprecedented aesthetic beauty of its landscape, and the anthropological and diversified cultural heritage which distinguishes the idiosyncrasy of Tanzania’s tourism, the fate of this sector remains juxtaposed between an ongoing political
tension ahead of the 2015 general elections and the government’s poor funding of the marketing and tourism promotion initiatives.
A debate on Tanzania’s tourism development for the year starting July this year had failed to elaborate and chart out stringent strategies and commitment by the government in power to spearhead marketing and promotion initiatives in tourism during the forthcoming financial year.
Standing as the biggest country among the other four partner member states of the East African Community (EAC), Tanzania has since the past 20 years, devoted to develop tourism aiming to become a number one tourist destination in Africa.
Covering a geographical area of 945,000 kilometers, Tanzania has set out 28 percent of the country’s land for nature and wildlife.
Through serious marketing campaigns across the world under the coordination and supervision of the Tanzania Tourist Board, this country had so far, achieved a milestone development in its goal to become a number one safari destination in Africa in terms of quality tourism, arrivals, tourist products and the quality of services offered to visitors.
According to travel marketing survey released last year by the Netherlands based online marketing website for African tours www.SafariBookings.com last year, Tanzania has been voted as the best safari destination in Africa.
conducted an extensive analysis of 3,061 reviews of over 1,000 tourists and travel experts who participated in a survey and concluded that both parties voted Tanzania the Best Safari destination in Africa. The country has an average rating of 4.8 out of 5 stars, the highest score of all eight major safari countries.
Botswana and Kenya scored 4.7 each, followed by South Africa and Zambia which scored 4.6 each against Namibia’s 4.5 stars. Uganda took 4.2 against Zimbabwe’s 4.1 stars.
The voting had involved more than 1,000 international tourists along with 756 travel and safari experts. Some 276 specialized safari operators, 2,324 user reviewers and 756 experts reviews were involved in the voting process and finally voted Tanzania to the top among other African countries.
In February last year, Serengeti Wildebeest Migration in Northern Tanzania tourist circuit has been named a Number One Natural Wonder of Africa in a voting conducted by Texas based Seven Natural Wonders organization under the coordination of its president, Dr. Phillip Imler.
The Wildebeest Migration has been combined with other animals roaming the Serengeti plains including lions, cheetahs, leopards, buffaloes, elephants, eland, ostriches, and impala, among other African mammals. Giant crocodiles are found in Mara River which cuts across the Serengeti, waiting for crossing wildebeests.
The Annual Wildebeest Migration which sees more than 1.5 million wildebeests and 200,000 zebras matching from one part to another inside wider plains of the Serengeti is the most natural attraction to most tourists visiting Tanzania. Serengeti is as well, a home of 400,000 Thomson gazelles.
Ngorongoro Crater as well, was voted a New Natural Wonder in Africa during the highly contested exercise to identify leading natural wonders in Africa and which have been attractive to tourists.
Known by most tourists as the “Garden of Eden” and the home of mankind, Ngorongoro has been a tourist icon in Africa.
Mount Kilimanjaro was also voted in the same process a New Seven 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.
Mount Kilimanjaro, Ngorongoro Crater, and the Serengeti National Park were nominated for voting into the New Seven Natural Wonders of Africa in mid-August 2012 and announced winners of the contest early last year.
Other natural tourists attractions which Tanzania competed in Africa were the Red Sea Reef, Sahara Desert, Tsingy de Bemaraha (Madagascar), Avenue of the Baobabs(Madagascar), Aldabra Atoll (Seychelles), Okavango Delta (Botswana), Zuma Park (Nigeria), Mount Kenya (Kenya), and Peak of the Furnace
The competition was coordinated by the Texas based travel website, the New Seven Natural Wonders of Africa.
Tabling his Tourism Ministry budget last week, Tanzania’s minister for Tourism Lazaro Nyalandu said surveys on tourism establishments had identified an increase on travel agencies operating in Tanzania to have increased from 1,103 to 1,037 last year.
As a result, he said, the number of tourists who visited Tanzania had increased from 1.07 million recorded in 2012 to 1.13 million recorded last year.
He said Tanzania has set to participate in key tourism exhibitions at international market outlets in the Netherlands, Spain, Germany, Turkey, United Kingdom, China, Russia, South Africa, India and Brazil.
Other key, tourist markets planned in the same process this year are Italy and Gulf States, Nyalandu said.
He said Tanzania is looking to launch a “Destination Re-Branding”, aimed to identify and bring a new outlook in this country’s tourist attractions.
But tourist stakeholders are worried over the growing political tension between rival parties ahead of next year’s general election and the ongoing debate on New Constitution which had all occupied the eyes of the government, other than tourism and other economic sectors in need of funding.
While other African destinations have set out big budgets to market their tourist attractions, Tanzania spends less than US$4 million on marketing and promotion of its tourism.