Poor infrastructure and climate change are among factors that hold back fast growth of tourism in Tanzania.
This was said in Dar es Salaam yesterday by the minister for Natural Resources and Tourism, Ms Shamsa Mwangunga, when opening an international conference on sustainable tourism in developing countries.
Tanzania tourism sector generates about 17.5 per cent of the country’s gross domestic product (GDP) and nearly 25 per cent of total export earnings, it is the second foreign exchange earner after agriculture.
The minister said poor roads and underdeveloped air travel have acted as a deterrent to efforts to attract more tourists from developed countries.
“While Tanzania is endowed with unique tourist attractions favourable for the growth of the sector, the involvement of the private sector to promote tourism, is still in its infancy,” Ms Mwangunga added.
She said currently, most investors were competing for space the developed northern tourist circuit, while only a few have shown interest to develop potentials in the southern circuit.
“We still have enormous natural, cultural and historical resources that are still un-exploited… the government invites investors and diversification of the tourism sector to reduce pressure on the northern circuit,” noted Ms Mwangunga.
The minister also cited climate change as another factor which affects tourism growth in the country. She blamed long drought spells that affect wildlife and forests. She said global warming has been a challenge to maintain icing on Mt. Kilimanjaro.
But she told the gathering that the government is planting trees in areas surrounding the mountain to curb ice melting.
In an interview, the coordinator for the conference, Prof Lettice Rutashobya of the University of Dar es Salaam, said developing countries face many challenges in sustaining the tourism industry including developing alternative tourism products to maximise earnings.
“The Department of Marketing of the University of Dar es Salaam Business School, has taken the initiative to invite tourism stakeholders across Africa to the conference in Dar es Salaam,” Prof Rutashobya said.