FRIDAY August 28, 2020
By Adam Ihucha
Tranquility News Correspondent, Arusha, Tanzania
The UN Development Programme (UNDP) has extended a financial support to Tanzania Association of Tour Operators (TATO) to mitigate ripple effects of the Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic on the recovering tourism industry in Tanzania.
Tanzania has since it opened its borders for tourists three months ago been struggling to revive its key industry in a bid to spur other businesses, recover thousands of lost jobs and to generate and pump revenue into the coffers.
Authorities reopened skies for international passenger flights on June 1, 2020, making Tanzania the first country in the East African region to welcome tourists to visit and enjoy its endowed attractions.
The UNDP financial support this time went into converting the Toyota Landcruiser donated by Tanganyika Wilderness Camps, a TATO member, into a state-of-the-art ambulance.
The funds also purchased the much-needed Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) in a bid to protect tourists and those serving them against the COVID-19 pandemic.
The state-of-the-art ambulance is among the fleet of three which Hanspaul Automechs Ltd, a local specialist company with 13-year experience in Safari vehicle conversions and manufacturer of 4×4 Accessories, has converted.
The company’s core business is converting base model vehicles into safari cars for both local market and export to the rest of Africa and Europe.
The ambulances will be deployed to tourism hotbed areas, namely Serengeti and Kilimanyaro national parks, Ngorongoro Conservation Area and Tarangire-Manyara ecosystem.
Equipped with the ambulances, Tanzania believes it will be capable of responding promptly to emergencies in its on-going bid to roll out a welcome mat for holidaymakers.
“Today will go down in history not only as the day the UNDP supported the private sector, but also it complimented the government’s efforts of assuring tourists of their safety amidst the COVID-19 pandemic,” the Natural Resources and Tourism Permanent Secretary, Dr Aloyce Nzuki, said shortly before he saw off the ambulance.
Dr Nzuki poured praises to the TATO and UNDP strategic partnership, saying the move will certainly play a great deal in restoring the tourism industry to its lost glory.
Indeed, the initiative is rolled out on a public-private partnership (PPP) model which will see the government providing paramedics as the private sector offers ambulances.
Ms Christine Musisi, the UNDP Resident Representative, said “cognizant of the tourism industry as an accelerator of sustainable development, with potential to contribute towards several Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) due to its cross cutting and multiplying effect on other sectors and industries; we are keen to continue supporting the government in the development of a Comprehensive Recovery Plan for the Tourism industry both in Tanzania Mainland and Zanzibar.”
UNDP, the leading UN organisation in fighting against injustice of poverty, inequality, and climate change, works with a broad network of experts and partners in 170 countries to build integrated, lasting solutions for people and planet.
The TATO chief executive officer, Mr Sirili Akko, said, in turn: “We in the private sector are so grateful to UNDP for their much needed support. This will go a long way in meeting responsibly and timely the recovery of the industry which is a major foreign currency earner to the national coffers and thousands of small businesses and jobs depending on it.”
TATO, a 37-year-old advocacy agency for a multi-billion dollar industry with 300 plus members across the natural resource-rich East African country, has its base in the northern safari capital of Arusha.
With nearly 1.5 million tourist arrivals annually, wildlife tourism continues growing and cementing its position as the leading foreign currency earner in Tanzania, fetching the country $2.5 billion, equivalent to nearly 17.6 per cent of its GDP.
In addition, tourism provides 600,000 direct jobs to Tanzanians, let alone over one million other citizens who generate incomes from the industry.