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Tourism
Expert shows how to recast tourism policy amidst global recession
Posted: Thursday November 06, 2008 3:38 AM BT
By Mgeta Mganga
Tanzania will have to get more aggressive in promoting domestic and cultural brands of tourism as means for insulating the key sector from possible bad blows resulting from global recession. Need for new twists in policy and marketing strategies are coming at a time when country still maintains its projection of realising USD 1.35 billion from tourism next year, up from USD 1.2 billion set to be earned this year.
However, doubts are making the rounds whether these revenue projections would be reached following an economic recession hitting most of Tanzania's tourists' source markets of North America and Europe.

Speaking to this paper in an interview, a tourism expert, Boaz Nyanga, said decline in incomes in developed countries due to current financial crisis would most likely reduce the number and level of spending by tourists coming to our country.

"All most affected countries have implemented bailout plans which in practice has meant spending taxpayers money and buy shares in failing financial institutions to let them recover', he said.

As a result, taxpayers would find have little disposable money to spend, he said.

In response to the bad things to come, it was important for now that all stakeholders are encouraged to engage in promoting alternative forms of tourism he mentioned as domestic and cultural tourism to tone down pending negative effects on economy.

We should encourage our people to visit local attractions more frequently, much as the government commits itself to improving infrastructure, he said.

According to him, cultural tourism should be promoted by allowing people to start their own business, as it happens in South Africa, but regulation must be simple and easy, otherwise all investors would be discouraged.

Cultural tourism is concerned with a region's culture, especially its arts.

It generally focuses on traditional communities who have diverse customs, unique form of art and distinct social practices, which basically distinguishes it from other types of culture.

Cultural tourism includes tourism in urban areas, particularly historic or large cities and their cultural facilities such as museums and theatres.

Tanzania's rural areas are also rich in tourism showcasing the traditions of indigenous cultural communities like festivals, rituals and their values and lifestyle.

In fact, a number of studies have generally agreed that cultural tourists spend substantially more than standard tourists do.

Generally, Tanzanian policy advocates avoidance of mass tourism while encouraging more revenue through high-end, low-density tourism.

He lamented that tourism attractions such as diving, snorkeling, surfing, sport fishing, historical sites in such places like Kilwa have not been effectively exploited.

This expert call happens in the wake of government's efforts to improve available attractions like game reserves while costs for visiting them have been drastically been reduced to local tourists.

Yet, he noted that there was need for public education that would tempt locals change their mindset about tourism as something not only available to foreigners of white origins.

Tanzania has a lot of attractions such as animals, mountains, rivers, museums, largest cinemas halls, gardens, beaches and buildings which many people do not understand their social and economic importance.

Local tourism would also get an impressive boost following an investment plan by Dar based Century Cinemas to open largest cinema hall Dar es Salaam to be situated at the Mlimani City Shopping Center in Dar es Salaam.

Given the country's more than 900 km of coastline, it would be possible as for instance to encourage tourists to buy beach houses and come to spend their winter time here, bringing investment and cash.

This can also be done upcountry in places such as Kigoma, Mtwara and Bukoba, which are also harbouring great tourism potential.

Experts in tourism industry are optimistic that cultural tourism resources will continue to serve as a base for the Tanzanian tourism industry.

Last year Tanzania received 719,030 tourists, fetching just over USD 1 billion, making the sector the leading foreign exchange earner.



 
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