Community-based tourism to benefit more in Tanzania


TANZANIA (eTN) – After getting listed on Discovery Channel’s travel programing focusing on community based tourism last year, Tanzania is looking ahead to encourage community-based tourism in areas bordering tourist attractive sites.

During a tourism and travel stakeholders’ dialogue held in June this year, tourist and travel practitioners came up with ideas to spearhead business initiatives, while looking responsibly at local communities.

Companies operating in Tanzania on the frontline agree with all the ideas, which target development of local communities, apart from government taxes paid and concessions from companies with operations inside wildlife parks.

Community-based tourism will, in the future, dominate traditional practices where tourists ordinarily ended their itineraries inside wildlife parks or beaches, far from the local communities.

Pastoral communities are the leading beneficiaries of benefits from community-based tourism. Just a few kilometers from the famous Ngorongoro conservation area, local communities are enjoying the benefits of tourism within their ancestoral areas.

Karatu township and its precincts is the best option where community-based tourism is being practiced with support from the management of Gibbs Farm, the 70-year-old coffee farm, now turned into a tourist place.

Walking tours of local African villages and Karatu township give travelers fisrt-hand experiences with everyday Tanzanian life. Travelers often visit schools, and share in nightly talks with locals that range from cultural history to animal behavior and African ways of life.

Established in 1997, Friends of Tanzanian Schools (FoTZS) is another living example of a community-based tourist charity inspired to support locals through education.

Travelers visiting Karatu, pool their resources to help local villages create educational infrastructure. Maasai pastoralists have been the largest group of beneficiaries of travelers’ philanthropy support.

Some of leading hotel chains in Tanzania, including Serena chain and Ndutu Lodge, all in northern Tanzania, have shown their support by funding community-based projects within the areas in which they operate.

Serena chain, on its part, had designed a policy targeting responsible tourism initiatives by looking at local communities in areas where hotels and lodges are currently operating.

The management believes that good relations with local communities makes doing business easier, but more importantly is the direct sharing of profit with communities through the provision of basic social services, mainly primary and secondary school education.

In Tanzania, Serena chain has built schools in the Ngorongoro district and Lake Manyara area.

In Tanzania, Serena chain also practices responsible tourism by looking at various areas of community support, environmental protection, and eco-friendly business practices.

Through travelers’ philanthropy, the Serena chain supports a broad range of charitable causes and community initiatives. A travelers’ philanthropy program promotes Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) within the travel industry and encourages individual businesses and their travelers to give “time, talent, and treasure” to support social services and conservation projects in host communities. This is an increasingly important source of development assistance for communities located near tourism destinations.

By providing staff time, funds, and other resources, tourism businesses are assisting schools, health clinics, orphanages, libraries, conservation research centers, parks and protected areas, and a wide range of other worthy projects.

Shamsa Mwangunga, Tanzania’s Minister for Tourism, said Tanzania’s focus on wildlife conservation, as well as community-based tourism, makes it the ideal destination for the discovery adventures market.