FRIDAY February 19, 2021
By Joe Lihundi
Tranquility News Reporter, Arusha, Tanzania
Tanzania has once again simplified Covid-19 protocols for foreign visitors who can now test as they continue sampling tourist attractions, including wildebeest migration, within Serengeti National Park, the government has confirmed.
The government and the Tanzania Association of Tour Operators (TATO) have jointly set up the country’s first tourists’ specimens collection centre right within the park.
The Seronera Covid-19 sample collection centre in Serengeti is the latest measure Tanzania has taken to guarantee safety of foreign tourists as the country strives to keep the industry lively amid the global pandemic.
Tanzania waived the mandatory quarantine period when it reopened its borders for foreign tourists on June 1, 2020, but retained some protocols such as temperature checks, washing hands frequently, masks wearing and social distancing.
Once they have arrived in the country, tourists are required to wash their hands frequently, stay at least one metre away from others and wear masks.
Dr Aloyce Nzuki, the Natural Resources and Tourism Permanent Secretary, said the Seronera Covid-19 samples collection centre came into force on February 13, 2021.
“This is a clear testimony of the importance of the key marketing mix element in the hospitality industry, namely partnership and collaboration in serving tourists for making testing easier and convenient,” Dr Nzuki said.
Mr Sirili Akko, the TATO Chief Executive Officer, said the association was proud to become part of initiatives aimed at fighting against the Covid-19 pandemic which was threatening the welfare of the travel and hospitality industry globally.
“After several months of painstaking experiments, hard work and considerable private funding, the Seronera Covid-19 specimens collection centre is at last open to tourists,” Mr Akko said.
The Covid-19 samples collection centre go along with rigorous safety protocols in place as the industry continues maintaining highest level of vigilance in line with the Health Ministry’s guidelines to stop and prevent spread of the virus in the country.
Mr Akko said the association believed the centre would be a big relief to the tourism industry. “We’re indebted and grateful indeed to the government for making this possible through tripartite collaboration between TATO, ministries of Natural Resources and Tourism and of Health, Community Development, Gender, Elderly, and Children,” Mr Akko said.
Last year, TATO had under the auspices of the UN Development Programme (UNDP) converted a Toyota Land Cruiser donated by its member — Tanganyika Wilderness Camps — into a state-of-the-art ambulance.
The UNDP financial support also enabled the association to procure personal protective equipment (PPE) for protecting tourists and those serving them against the Covid-19 pandemic.
Most hotbeds in the northern tourist circuit, namely Serengeti, Ngorongoro Conservation Area, Kilimanjaro National Park, and Tarangire-Manyara ecosystem, have been equipped with the ambulances.
“We are keen in supporting the Tanzania government in developing a Comprehensive Recovery Plan for the tourism industry both in Tanzania Mainland and Zanzibar,” Ms Christine Musisi, the UNDP Tanzania Resident Representative, said.
Owing to its cross-cutting and multiplying effect on other sectors and industries, tourism was an accelerator of sustainable development with the potential for contributing towards several Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), she explained.