FRIDAY January 12, 2024
By Adam Ihucha
The Tranquility News Correspondent, Tanzania
President Samia Suluhu Hassan has nominated a high-profile financial guru, Mr Mussa Kuji, Conservation Commissioner for the Tanzania National Parks (TANAPA).
TANAPA, the most strategic state-run conservation and tourism agency at the core of the tourism industry that earns the country’s economy $3.3 billion annually, is a prestigious body mandated to manage 21 national parks.
A State House dispatch dated January 11, 2024, indicates Dr Samia entrusted Mr Kuji, a top-notch financial expert with a vast experience, to steer the high-profile conservation and tourism agency, with immediate effect.
The Head of State’s nomination of the new TANAPA CEO comes as a surprise move, signaling her resolve to change way of running the agency in the face of a myriad of challenges facing the travel and tourism industry.
Mr Kuji, an accomplished financial specialist with solid education background and decades of working experience, brings an impressive track record of developing business and delivering quality tourism services, particularly a critical soft skills package required for transforming the country’s tourism industry.
“I’m thankful to my Allah, the President, Dr Samia Suluhu Hassan, the Minister for Natural Resources and Tourism, Ms Angelah Kairuki, and the TANAPA Board of Trustee for trusting me to navigate this key conservation and tourism agency,” Mr Kuji says.
He says the work ahead is to shape the future of the Tanzania’s tourism industry for it to contribute significantly to the country’s economy and translate the Dr Samia’s earnest vision.
“We need to woo investors within the national parks, improve infrastructure and offer high-quality services as we seek to boost tourism growth and revenue for economic development,” the soft spoken TANAPA Chief explains.
It is mind-blowing, he says, to note that Egypt, Morocco and South Africa, which lag far behind Tanzania in the number of quality tourists’ allures, receive millions of travellers and generate more foreign currencies than Tanzania does.
Egypt was ranked first in African for international tourist arrivals, accounting for almost 11.7 million arrivals in 2022, trailed by Morocco, with nearly 10.9 million visitors.
The survival of our wildlife is a matter of grave concern to all of us in Africa. These wild creatures amid the wild places they inhabit are not only important as a source of wonder and inspiration but are an integral part of our natural resources and our future livelihood and well being.
In accepting the trusteeship of our wildlife, we solemnly declare that we will do everything in our power to make sure that our children’s grandchildren will be able to enjoy this rich and precious inheritance.
The conservation of wildlife and wild places calls for specialist knowledge, trained manpower, and money and we look to other nations to co-operate with us in this important task – the success or failure of which not only affects the continent of Africa but the rest of the world as well,” Julius Kambarage Nyerere, Tanzania’s first president and Father of the Nation.
While Egypt raked in $12.2 billion, Morocco generated around $9.2 billion during the period under review. Travel and tourism added nearly $13.2 billion to South Africa’s GDP in 2021.
In contrast, Tanzania receives barely 1.7 million tourists, earning paltry $3.3 billion annually, despite dedicating nearly 44 per cent of its surface area of 945,203 square kilometers — an area bigger than its northwestern neighbouring country of Burundi.
“TANAPA, the custodian of 21 national parks, covering an area approximately equivalent to the land area of Croatia is going to closely working with Tanzania Tourists Board, Tanzania Association of Tour Operators, Hotels Association of Tanzania, among other players, to change the narrative,” Mr Kuji notes.
Key tourism industry players have received the news with triumph, saying Mr Kuji will bring new impetus not only to TANAPA, but also to the entire travel and tourism value chain.
“Mr Kuji is the right person at the right moment at TANAPA. He is a down to earth person, good listener, open-minded, approachable, transparent, with growth mindset, ethics and decisiveness,” the Tanzania Association of Tour Operators (TATO) CEO, Mr Sirili Akko, says.
The tourism industry in Tanzania grew by leaps and bounds last year in both revenue and visitor numbers.
For instance, the Tanzania’s central bank latest data shows that the tourism receipts surged by 37.5 per cent to $3.3 billion in the 12 months leading up to November 2023, while tourist arrivals augmented by 27 per cent to 1.797 million.
The new trend is contrary to the situation before the coronavirus pandemic when Tanzania earned $2.526 billion in 2019, with 1,527,230 tourists visiting the country.
The Bank of Tanzania’s monthly economic review for December 2023 attributes the rise in travel receipts to the recovery of the tourism industry as evidenced by a significant increase in tourist arrivals.
As it stands now, tourism is the Tanzania’s leading foreign exchange earner, overtaking gold, which generated $3 billion in revenue in year up to November 2023, up from $2.8 billion the previous year.
The ruling Chama Cha Mapinduzi’s Election Manifesto clearly stipulates that tourism will attract five million tourists who will leave behind nearly $6.6 billion by 2025 with expected real multiplier effects to a critical mass of common folks in Tanzania, particularly women and youthΩ