Dar Es Salaam — The local tourism industry is projected to register positive growth this year after recording dismal performance in 2009 mainly due to the global financial crunch that hit the major economies from where Tanzania draws her tourists.
Stakeholders envisage a steady growth in 2010 despite some possible setbacks highlighted in a new global report that however casts a grim future for the tourism industry.
“There are a number of factors that give us a strong standing to project better prospects in the business this year,” Justus Maro, head of Travel Instinct Agency, told a stakeholders’ meeting in Dar es Salaam over the weekend.
The meeting participants were optimistic that more tourists would flock the country in 2010, saying many of the country’s potential markets were on the road to recovery.
Despite forecasting a three to four per cent growth in international tourist arrivals this year, the World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) notes in its latest report that: “This year of transformation provides opportunities and serious risks to tourism.”
The report says employment and economic growth in the major tourism markets –Europe and the USA — remain fragile, with stimulus measures on the verge of being phased out due to increasing public deficits. Increased taxes, the report adds, could also put extra pressure on household and company budgets.
Tanzania Tourism Board, the country’s tourism marketing agency, has started a campaign to scale up tourism fortunes in 2010, in a move that aims at benefiting from the World Cup travellers to South Africa.
For some other countries in the region, others risks cited in the UNWTO report are volatile oil prices, and insecurity and influenza A (H1N1) virus that has since been easing since 2010 started as factors which could slow international travel.
The industry’s optimism stems from the 2009 performance, which saw tourism projects plunge to as low as 50 per cent, according to National Bureau of Statistics figure.
Tourism is one of Tanzania’s biggest foreign exchange earners but was hard hit by the global economic recession which reduced arrivals to a trickle.
In a telephone interview with ‘Daily News’, the Minister for Tourism and Natural Resources, Ms Shamsa Mwangunga, described 2010 as the year of stability, saying: “We expect the industry to grow at between eight and nine per cent.”