Declining tourism numbers put Tanzania on alert


Declining international tourist arrivals in Tanzania have put the country on alert.

Government sources indicate that tourist arrivals declined by 10 per cent in the first 10 months of 2009, to reach 576,643 down from 641,951 in 2008.

The UN’s World Tourism Organisation’s 2009 report — World Tourism Barometer projects that the negative trends in international tourism emerged in the second half of 2008 and intensified in 2009 due to the global economic downturn and swine flu pandemic.

According to the report, international tourism dropped by 8 per cent, from 269 million in 2008 to 247 million in the first quarter of 2009.

The organisation also speculates that the trend will carry on to June 2010.

However, Ibrahim Mussa, assistant director, research, training and statistics at Tanzania’s Ministry of Natural Resources and Tourism said the effects of the global crunch had not badly wounded the country.

This is despite statistics showing declining figures with the exception of July, which recorded 79,171 visitors compared to 77,775 visitors in 2008.

The trend is replicated in Zanzibar where the Zanzibar Commission for Tourism has reported only 81,985 tourists arrivals against a projected figure of 150,000 in 2009.

It is impossible that Zanzibar will salvage the situation that has badly affected the economy because peak periods are elapsing.

Julia Bishop, director of Zanzibar Association of Tourism Investors is optimistic about the country recovering from the crisis.

Tanzania earned $1.2 million from tourism activities in 2008 while Zanzibar received $1.6 million, which is a 3.1 per cent decline from the figures recorded in 2007.

According to the Ministry of Natural Resources and Tourism, the average length of stay for visitors in Tanzania mainland was nine nights as compared to 10 in Zanzibar, which earned the country $299 per visitor.

Tanzania is now intensifying its efforts to revamp domestic tourism which grew by 19.3 per cent to reach 639,749 in 2009, compared to 2008.