Tanzanian president admires Jamaican tourism


DAR ES SALAAM, Tanzania (eTN) – Impressed with Jamaican tourism, Tanzanian President Jakaya Kikwete said his country can learn a lot from the Caribbean Island of Jamaica.

The president toured the islands of Jamaica and Trinidad & Tobago last week and he agreed that Tanzania’s tourism sector was under-performing compared to the natural heritage available in the East African country.

President Kikwete called for radical measures that would help to spearhead tourism development in a country that boasts of wildlife, culture, ocean beaches and historical sites, which are all the leading tourist attractions in the African continent.

Mr. Kikwete explored both natural and man-made tourist attractions at Jamaica’s Ocho Rios tourist hub in St. Ann region, where he expressed that he is envious of the achievements registered by the Caribbean country.

He told Jamaican Tourism Minister Edmund Bartlett that he was impressed to learn from Jamaican experience on best options to develop tourism while retaining the existing natural and man-made attractions that have all made Jamaica among best destinations in North America.

Jamaica, which has 2.8 million inhabitants, receives some 2.6 million tourists annually mainly from the US, Canada and some European countries, while Tanzania, with its abundant wildlife and other attractions, is still struggling to achieve the one million visitors mark by year 2010.

Tourism officials in Jamaica said their hotels have 65 percent occupancy rate with each visitor spending an average of nine days. Tanzania is talking about 53 percent hotel occupancy, while visitors stay for six to seven days or less. Tourism and other services account for more than 60 percent of Jamaica’s economy.

President Kikwete attributed Tanzania’s dismal earnings from tourism to poor infrastructure and service quality.

Local tourism promoters will need to improve product branding and blend wildlife safaris and beach tourism with historical and cultural attractions. Tanzania hoteliers should also learn better ways of attracting and retaining visitors, Mr. Kikwete said.