SUNDAY April 16, 2023
By Patty Magubira
The Tranquility News Reporter, Tanzania
Women in Tanzania have formed their own advocacy and lobby body to train and hook fellow women into travel and tourism industry in the natural-resource rich East African country.
The country’s population though stands at over 60 million with females slightly exceeding males, few women decide the fate of the industry in Tanzania.
Thanks to the country’s first female President, Dr Samia Suluhu Hassan, for inspiring the women to boldly come in public in the male-dominated society and publicise unique natural resources at their disposal.
Dubbed Tanzania Association of Women Tour Operators (TAWTO), the new body has taken off with 36 female members, mostly employees and local investors with at least 50 per cent stake in existing firms in the industry.
“Our goal is to subscribe at least 100 members by the end of this year,” said Ms Elizabeth Mwakjila, the TAWTO Chairperson, during the launching of the association in Arusha, Tanzania.
She added: “We’re not ditching our sister outfits, but rather complimenting them. We’ve been cooperating with them and they have all along been supporting us in the process of registering TAWTO.
“We’re and will be active members in the associations comprising both men and women, but we want to bring on board as many women as possible into travel and tourism because the country abounds with attractions and the industry is in dire need of female players.”
Mr Mohamed Mchengwerwa, the Tanzania’s Natural Resources and Tourism Minister, launched the TAWTO at night on Friday April 14, 2023, flanked by the Permanent Secretary in the ministry, Dr Hassan Abbas, the Deputy Permanent Secretary, Mr. Anderson Mutatembwa, and the Arusha Regional Commissioner, Mr John Mongela, who was represented by the Arusha District Commissioner, Mr Felician Mtahengerwa.
Ms Mwakjila said Mr Mongela and Ms Devota Mdachi, the Tourism Marketing Lecturer with the College of the African Wildlife Management based on the outskirts of Moshi Municipality in Kilimanjaro Region, would be among key advisers of the association.
She assured the minister that TAWTO would focus on all tourist attractions, particularly the virgin ones found in abundance in the southern circuit, in a bid to reduce traffic north of the country in line with the national tourism policy.
The Tanzania’s 1999 Tourism Policy eyes high-value travellers, who spend lavishly, stay longer and sample attractions scattered around the second vast East African country after Democratic Republic of the Congo.
The TAWTO Chairperson said the association would also create various environment-friendly projects to generate income for running the outfit and training programmes tailor-made for women and youth.
She said TAWTO would, in collaboration with communities surrounding national parks, establish cultural tourism programmes for the communities and girl child, in particularly, to enjoy conservation and tourism fruits.
“TAWTO will carry out training sessions targeting women and youth for them to accord due priority to conservation and tourism activities taking place in their neighborhoods,” she said.
According to her, despite enhancing tourism business among women, TAWTO is billed to alleviate income poverty, if not to eradicate the impoverishment once and for all, and to contribute to the national foreign currency reserve.
The Chairperson of the newly created outfit said the initiative was dedicated to Dr Samia for her efforts to open up the industry in the country when COVID-19 had sent the entire world reeling.
Dr Samia left the State House premises over a year ago to participate in the production of the Tanzania: The Royal Tour film series in the field as a mere tour guide to Peter Greenberg, US journalist and former travel editor for NBS’s Today, CNBC, and MSNBC.
The down to earth President used the opportunity for showcasing cultural, wildlife heritage and an array of investment opportunities the country has in store for the rest of the world.
Mr Mchengera commended the TAWTO members for supporting the President and for walking the country’s policy rhetoric which calls for participation of women in the tourism value chain.
“Tanzania was hit by COVID-19 just like others countries, but owing to joint efforts of the government and you players, foreign tourist arrivals jumped to 1.5 million in 2022 from barely about 800,000 the previous year, generating $2.5 million foreign currency,” he said.
As a result, Tanzania: The Royal Tour film initiative, drew 1.7 million tourists in February 2023 alone, a record that had never been reached during the period in review since independence.
Mr Mchengerwa commended players in the industry for successfully sensitising 2.4 million local tourists to visit national parks during the pandemic, observing that it was another record in the country’s history since independence.
He, however, said the industry still had a long way to go, as its contribution did not reflect a myriad of attractions the country was endowed with.
“We should not be contended with the receipts we get, we won’t have a better time to push for the growth of the industry than now,” said the minister, explaining that a good pollical will was in place and that the Head of State understood the value and strength of tourism contributing massively to the national coffersΩ