MONDAY May 1, 2023
By Patty Magubira
Tranquility News Reporter, Tanzania
Tanzania is mending its red-carpet treatment ahead of its travel and tourism peak season to appeal visitors from all corners and spheres of life.
The country’s state-owned conservation and tourism agency already has trained over 1,300 tour guides in elaborate hospitality as its parent ministry takes stock of the Tanzania: Royal Tour film unveiled in the US about a year ago.
The four-day seminar tailor-made for tour guides is borne out of proposals the travel and tourism players from the private sector made at different fora with Tanzania National Parks (TANAPA). The private sector in the country mans a lion’s share of the industry.
Mr William Mwakilema, the TANAPA Conservation Commissioner, said during the closing ceremony of the seminar in Arusha, Tanzania, over the weekend that sharpening the industry players’ skills would be a sustainable mission of the agency.
“This is just a beginning; we will conduct such seminars every low season for our ambassadors (tour guides) to also become good managers of our natural resources,” promised Mr Mwakilema, stressing:
“Conservation and tourism are just like food; we take at least three meals a day and are required to continue eating daily. The same applies to the maintenance of our natural resources.”
The overarching goal of the seminar is to have sustainable tourism and to ensure sightseers at the country’s national parks get services worth their hard-worn dollars.
The seminar also inculcated a culture of investing in UTT Asset Management and Investor Services among tour guides for them to withstand shocks arising from disasters as was the case with COVID-19 pandemic.
“One of the lessons learnt from the pandemic is that the majority of the travel and tourism service providers hardly had savings, believing the tourists’ dollar will always trickle down,” Mr Mwakilema explained.
The tour guides unanimously resolved to observe tourism laws at tourists’ sites, refine their services and safeguard the environment in and outside the parks as they chanted ‘no more littering’ slogan they coined.
They were also resolute in carrying out campaigns to promote little known attractions at five national parks, namely Mkomazi, Saadan, Nyerere, Mikumi and Ruaha, beginning with Discover Mkomazi slated for launching in the near future.
A tourist easily spots the Big Five while sampling the national park falling into Mkomazi-Tsavo Ecosystem, the second largest trans-boundary ecosystem in East Africa after Serengeti-Mara Ecosystem.
Mr Mwakilema said the conservation agency could not wait to see Mkomazi National Park hyped for it to sustain itself and raise surplus receipts to relieve Serengeti and Kilimanjaro national parks of its dependence on them.
Also high on the tour guides resolutions is to responsibly and appropriately escort tourists interested in viewing over two million wildebeests crossing the crocodiles-packed Mara River north of Serengeti, with lions and other predators waylaying them, as they head for the Kenya’s Masai Mara National Reserve.
A tug of war among the tour guides has in the recent past been denying tourists at the river of the opportunity to view the mammals contending with deadly barriers to their 800-kilometre trek kicked off and concluded south of Serengeti each year.
“With the training we got, tourist will enjoy the forthcoming wildebeest migration,” Mr Emmanuel Mollel, the Chairperson of the Tanzania Tour Guides Association, said.
The dramatic and eye-catching great migration triggers the peak season of the travel and tourism industry in Tanzania with effect from July.
Tanzania: The Royal Tour film
The Permanent Secretary in the country’s Natural Resources and Tourism Ministry, Dr Hassan Abbas, exhorted the tour guides while officiating the closing ceremony of the seminar to prepare themselves for grabbing abundant opportunities to come with Tanzania: The Royal Tour film.
Dr Abbas said the impact of the initiative by the Tanzania President, Dr Samia Suluhu Hassan, would last for a century if not two, as it comprised a comprehensive package with short, medium and long-term strategies for opening up Tanzania to tourists and investors globally.
A series of documentaries covered in the film was just a tip of the iceberg whose bottom line was to reach out to key personalities globally in a bid to portray to them a real picture of Tanzania contrary to the one painted by some media outlets.
Dr Samia got an access to major media outlets in the US, including New York Times, New York Magazine and Essence Magazine, among others, red by global business moguls who call the shot in the travel and tourism industry and influence a tourist to visit a country or not, he said.
“Interviews arising from those engagements were read by 600 million people worldwide,” said Dr Abbas, adding that the President also met tycoons in the industry, including one of the richest men globally who leads in ownership of tourist hotel chains in the world.
The President further met another tycoon, who is leading in ownership of ships globally as well as 30 members of travel and tourism business community, with the 110th New York City Mayor, Mr Eric Adams, pledging to assume the role of a tour guide to promote Tanzania.
“Big hotel brands are on their way to Tanzania, the future is exciting,” stressed Dr Abbas, who chaired the organising committee of the film which saw Dr Samia leaving the State House premises to assume the role of a tour guide.
“There are many professions, but the President chose to become a tour guide, you should begin where she stopped,” Dr Abbas told the participants of the seminar as he declared the maiden training session officially closedΩ