Tanzania celebrates its independence day, the 55th anniversary of self-rule, which was attained from British colonial rule (Zanzibar and Pemba gained independence on 10 December 1963, and merged with mainland Tanzania on the 26th of April, 1964).
Tanzania (Tanganyika) was initially occupied by imperial Germany as a colonial territory in the 19th Century, and the country became part of German East Africa. The post–World War I accords and the League of Nations charter later designated the country a British Mandate.
Tanzania experienced the wave of nationalism, which swept the continent in the 1950s and 1960s. The nationalists in the country pushed for independence, which was attained in 1961. Julius Kambarge Nyerere, who was at the forefront of the liberation movement became the first President of Tanzania and previously Tanganyika, until his retirement in 1985 (Nyerere was Prime Minister in 1961 at independence. In 1962 Tanganyika adopted a republican constitution and Nyerere was elected the first President of the country).
ECONOMIC POTENTIAL: TOURISM
It has long been argued that sub-Saharan African (SSA) countries need to diversify their sources of export earnings away from over-reliance on primary commodities. Very few SSA countries have been successful in exporting manufactures, and this sector offers limited potential for most SSA countries. Given their natural and wildlife resources, tourism is a sector with growth potential; the foreign exchange earnings and increased demand for local goods associated with foreign tourists can contribute to economic growth.
In Tanzania, tourism has become a major sector in the economy during the 1990s. Economic policies and government efforts to support tourism have been emphasized for several reasons.
While its famous northern circuit national parks, Mt. Kilimanjaro, the Selous Game Reserve, and of course Zanzibar, comprising of the islands of Unguja and Pemba, are well known abroad and need little explanation, this more distant location has always been a specialty destination for tourists.
Earning $1 billion (USD), Tourism Overtakes Agriculture
Growing at a steady rate for the past seven years, Tanzania’s tourism is booming. According to the Governor of the Bank of Tanzania, Prof. Benno Ndulu, Tourism, earning $1 billion USD, now contributes nearly triple the GDP of Agriculture, which has been the leading contributor to the East African country’s coffers for most of its history. According to the Honorable Mme. Shamsa S. Mwangunga, Tanzania’s Minister of Natural Resources & Tourism, “Estimates are that more than 750,000 tourists are expected to arrive in the country this year, bringing in about $950 million dollars. We attribute this growth to several factors, not the least of which is that Tanzania has a stable and peaceful environment with a democratically elected government.
TOURISM- TANZANIA SUCCESS STORY
Increased air access, with many carriers now flying direct to Tanzania, new luxury hotels on the Mainland and Zanzibar, improved infrastructure and tarmac roads on safari circuits are also major factors contributing to Tanzania tourism’s success story.
Peter Mwenguo, Managing Director, Tanzania Tourist Board, noted that these improvements together with the diversification of the tourism product adds to the existing allure of Tanzania’s unsurpassed wildlife, seven World Heritage Sites, the cultural richness and friendliness of Tanzania’s people, miles of beautiful Indian Ocean coastline and the exotic spice Islands of Zanzibar. “Over the last 10 years, Tanzania has become a stand-alone destination. In the past, many tour operators to East Africa offered Tanzania as an add-on or extension to other countries.
Now, there is such a great demand by clients to spend their entire time in Tanzania, that the same tour operators offer more than one Tanzania-only itinerary. Recently they have even expanded their programs to include the lesser known Southern Circuit where visitors can explore the world famous Selous Game Reserve and Ruaha National Park. Recently, it was announced that Ruaha will be combined with the adjacent Usangu Game Reserve, making it the largest National Park in Africa.”
2/ TOURISM NOW IS NUMBER ONE ECONOMIC SECTOR
Tanzania as a brand is acquiring wide and respected recognition in the past few years, so it comes as no surprise that America is now the leading source of visitors to Tanzania’s Game Parks. In October 2006, Serengeti National Park was named the Seventh New Wonder of the World by ABC-TV’s Good Morning America and USA Today. Zanzibar was on the New York Times Travel Section’s “Places to Go” in 2007. Kilimanjaro made the same list for 2008 as well as the USA Today 2008 List of “must see” destinations. Even the popular American movie, The Bucket List, starring Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman, included a “Safari in Tanzania” as one of the 10 “must do’s” before one “kicks the bucket.”
In an effort to reinforce Brand Tanzania with the American travellers as well as Travel Industry professionals in the US, Tanzania Tourist Board (TTB) launched a two-prong campaign. Targeting the consumer in September, 2007, TTB inaugurated a TV campaign, its first-ever, which aired on CNN, CHLN, CNN Airport, and CNN.com.
According to Amant Macha, TTB Marketing Director, “we have had a great demand from American agents for a Tanzania Travel Specialist program. With this in mind, TTB initiated a “Tanzania Travel Specialist” course of study with Travel Agent University. The response was overwhelming, with more than 500 travel agents passing the test and qualifying as Tanzania Specialists in the first four months of the course offering.”