Days of operators with shoddy tourism services are numbered

Tanzania National Parks threatens to suspend them

SUNDAY October 23, 2022

By Patty Magubira

Tranquility News Reporter, Tanzania

Tanzanian tour operators providing substandard services have either to pull up their socks or face the wrath of the state-owned conservation and tourism agency.

The Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the Tanzania National Parks (TANAPA), the retired General George Waitara, says the authority will not hesitate to suspend any tour operator whose services do not meet its threshold.

“We do not want to reach there,” warns Gen Waitara when addressing tourism players during a gala which saw best service providers in the foreign currency minting industry feted recently.

The TANAPA tourism awards seek to recognise and celebrate tour companies and CEOs, appreciate their exceptional contributions to growth of the industry and to encourage the much-needed innovation for improving the input of the subsector to the country’s economy.

The ruling Chama Cha Mapinduzi election manifesto task the travel and tourism industry to increase tourists’ arrivals from 1 million plus to 5 million, and tourist receipts from $2 billion plus to $6 billion come 2025.

The Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the Tanzania National Parks, the retired General George Waitara, warns tour operators over offering poor services. PHOTO | MAELEZO

“We commend all the winners for receiving their awards, those who won’t receive, the criteria are still in place, continue meeting them to succeed in the future,” says Gen Waitara.

He commends all players in the industry for tolerating hassles and rising to various measures taken during the COVID-19, enabling tourism to gradually recover.

Gen Waitara handed over a special award to the Minister for Natural Resources and Tourism, Dr Pindi Chana, on behalf of the Tanzania President Samia Suluhu Hassan for her contribution to the industry through Tanzania The Royal Tour film in which she took part as a Chief Tour Guide.

The maiden film produced by Peter Greenberg and launched in New York, US, on April 18, 2022, features President Samia as his key guide—showcasing Tanzania’s rich cultural, wildlife heritage and array of investment opportunities.

What makes the Royal Tour series different from most tourism-related programming is that besides presenting an informal and personal side of a leader, it presents a 360-degree view of Tanzania, the home of number one safari destination in the world, housing four of the most coveted adventure hotspots on earth: Serengeti, Mount Kilimanjaro, Zanzibar and Ngorongoro Crater, all surrounded by kind hearted people.

Ms Zainab Ansell (Left), the founder and CEO of Zara Tanzania Adventures, hugs the Minister for Natural Resources and Tourism, Dr Pindi Chana, at the Tanzania National Parks grounds during the 3rd TANAPA Tourism Awards gala held about a month ago. PHOTO | FILE

“All of you are witnesses that she deserves it, she was a Tour Guide number one,” says Gen Waitara, observing that tourism is, as a result, doing well, as the number of fleets is increasing on the roads heading for tourist sites.

He exhorts tourism players to rise above the challenge of hosting the tourist flocks and to consider beefing up their investments in the industry in a bid to meet the government’s target.

“We should wipe out the word ‘failure’ and replace it with ‘we can’,” he insists, assuring the tourism players that the Samia Administration has empowered TANAPA to improve infrastructure and the national parks.

“We may have good attractions, but poor-quality services can discourage tourists. We shouldn’t reach a stage at which we will be compelled to suspend poor performing stakeholders,” he warns.

The Deputy Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Natural Resources and Tourism, Mr Juma Mkomi, admits that COVID-19 has destabilised tourism in the country, commending associations of players for ensuring the industry rebounds and grows.

The Deputy Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Natural Resources and Tourism, Mr Juma Mkomi, says tour operators compliment the mandate of the ministry. PHOTO | FULL SHANGWE

“Without these associations, we at the ministry would continue protecting forests and wildlife animals, among other attractions, but we would not be able to bring tourists,” he says, explaining:

“Associations are doing a great job of bringing tourists and beefing up revenue, enabling the industry to contribute 17 per cent of the GDP.”

The Deputy Permanent Secretary also commends TANAPA for continuing to conserve national parks and recognising players who bring about productivity in its conservation mandate.

Dr Chana, says President Samia’s message to the tourism stakeholders is to meet regularly to deliberate on the growth of the industry.

Citing different tourism data, including from the UN World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) and the World Travel and Tourism Council, Dr Chana says the collapse of international tourism compounded by the COVID-19 stands at an average of between 56 per cent and 90 per cent in different countries.

Mr William Mwakilema, the Tanzania National Parks Conservation Commissioner, says the state-owned conservation agency anticipates widening the scope of the TANAPA Tourism Awards next year to acknowledge contributions of emerging service providers offering quality services and conserving the environment in a bid to encourage sustainable conservation in the country. PHOTO | DANIEL MSIRIKALE

As a result of different strategic measures which both the government and tourism players take to fight against the pandemic, the industry is beginning to recover, she observes.

Dr Chans says the government is mulling over rolling out the second phase of the Royal Tour film dubbed The Hidden Tanzania to sustain gains brought about by the first phase of the documentary.

They include the growing number of tourism products such as Meetings, Incentives, Conferences and Exhibitions (MICE) which saw Tanzania attracting international conferences, including those of the UNWTO held in Arusha on October 5-7, 2022, and the Confederation of African Football meeting also held in the city.

Going by a myriad of attractions Tanzania boasts having, the industry can contribute beyond the 17 per cent to the GDP, she notes, assuring the players that the 1999 tourism policy acknowledges and values their inputs to growth of the sub-sector.

The ministry continues welcoming investors in the national parks and other areas of attractions, especially in the southern circuit which abounds with opportunities including lodges and tour firms, she says.

Tourists scale up Mount Kilimanjaro dubbed the roof of Africa. PHOTO | DANIEL MSIRIKALE

Dr Chana directs public institutions in the industry to engage stakeholders in creating tourism products and putting in place relevant systems for serving tourists.

“Ensure laws pertaining to the parks and tourism business are properly enforced to continue protecting parks for the benefit of present and future generations,” she says.

The minister admonishes tourists and tour guides to refrain from engaging in actions that compromise conservation, lives and wildlife animals while in the parksΩ

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