TUESDAY April 5, 2022
A tourist takes part in activities of a local community. Responsible travel to natural areas, conserving the environment, and improving the well-being of the local people dubbed ecotourism is billed to be the surest approach. PHOTO | MAKOYE SAFARIS
By Adam Ihucha
Better days for poor communities surrounding Tanzania’s tourist circuits are in the offing if a proposed ambitious strategy for spurring the local economy is anything to go by.
The prospective strategy dubbed integrated tourism and local economic development (LED) is seeking an apt mode of transferring tourists’ dollars into the pockets of a critical mass of ordinary folks living adjacent to the country’s northern, southern, western and coastal tourist circuits.
UNDP Tanzania through its Green Growth and Innovation Disruptions project is in collaboration with the Ministry of Natural Resources and Tourism, Tanzania Association of Tour Operators (TATO) and UNWTO supporting the preparation for the integrated tourism and LED strategy.
The blueprint aims at enhancing the recovery of tourism from the COVID-19 pandemic and identifying ways for both businesses and communities to benefit from the tourist attractions and to dedicate themselves to sustainable conservation of the assets.
It also seeks to capacitate all actors in the entire tourism value chains to become competitive, resilient and effectively integrated into the industry.
The strategy focuses on growth, poverty reduction and social inclusion as it promotes participation, dialogue and connecting people to surrounding resources for decent employment and quality life for both men and women.
“Clearly, one key aspect of sustaining the enormous benefits and contribution of tourism on the economy is to ensure local ownership and traction on tourism development strategies,” said Dr Josaphat Kweka, the CEO and Lead Consultant at Talanta International Limited which is preparing the document.
“That is, the sustainability of tourism assets depends significantly on the extent to which the surrounding local community appreciates and benefits directly or indirectly from its development or growth,” Dr Kweka told a stakeholders meeting in Arusha recently, stressing:
“A strategy for ensuring tourism stirs the local economic development is of utmost importance.”
Gracing the key players’ strategic meeting on the roadmap for the blueprint, the UNDP Tanzania Resident Representative, Ms Christine Musisi, underscored the need for involving communities surrounding the tourism circuits not only in conservation drives, but also in sharing benefits arising from the industry.
“As UNDP, we envision that the LED strategy can catalyse transformative change by enhancing forward and backward linkages within the tourism ecosystem through creating jobs, stimulating innovative business models, and contributing to livelihoods,” Ms Musisi said.
In developing the strategy, she explained, UNDP will collaborate with UNWTO and TATO, and will be guided by the government on how best the plan will be implemented once it is formulated.
Tourism remains at the centre of the Tanzania’s economy in terms of its contribution to the GDP growth, foreign currency, jobs and also plays an integrator role of connecting other sectors with the global economy.
In real terms, tourism is a money-spinning industry in Tanzania as it creates 1.3 million decent jobs, generates $2.6 billion annually, equivalent to 18 as well as 30 per cent of the country’s GDP and export receipts, respectively.
However, transferring dollars accrued from international tourists to poor people surrounding the tourist attractions has been a major challenge in the country.
For instance, lots of dollars are generated from Tanzania`s world-famous northern tourist circuit, but very little trickles down into the pockets of ordinary people living in its vicinity.
According to the SNV study dubbed “Tracing the Tourist Dollar in Northern Tanzania”, while the northern safari circuit attracts 700,000 tourists with combined revenues of nearly $950 million, only $171 million, equivalent to18 per cent, goes to communities through the multiplier effects.
However, analysts say cultural tourism is the best model for transferring tourist’s dollars to the poor people than any other model.
“Offer complementary products as unique as possible by making optimal use of local knowledge, cultural attractions – traditional healers, handicrafts, cuisine – cooking classes, chameleons, birds, snake and nightjar stories. Create win-win situations, focus on enhancing length of stay and local expenditure through new activities,” the UNWTO expert, Mr Marcel Leijzer, proposed.
The TATO Chairman, Mr Wilbard Chambulo, said the strategy should also focus on how to increase the number of tourists visiting Tanzania, as its multiplier effects will certainly touch a critical mass of ordinary peopleΩ