Tourist killing rattles Tanzanian tourism industry

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(eTN) – A Dutch tourist and one the camp’s managers of Ikoma Tented Camp in the western part of the Serengeti were killed when a gang of armed thugs came to rob valuables and camp equipment.

Tanzania’s tourism fraternity has expressed shock and dismay over the shootings and urged the authorities to leave no stone unturned to find the gang and bring them to justice, as fears now prevail of possibly more raids in the future, should the criminals not be found.. A source in Arusha said on condition of strict anonymity: ‘This is a very bad thing to happen. Tanzania has problems enough as it is for tourism with all the negative publicity about the Serengeti Highway and other projects planned for some of the parks and near them and this is terrible now. Why shoot someone when you hold the guns and can rob them of everything but at least leave them alive. We mourn the death of the tourist and of our fellow colleague. Please make sure when you write that you say this is a totally isolated case. I am not playing this down really but this is not what our visitors get. We in Tanzania are not having such things happen and it was surely a one off case and a robbery gone very wrong’. True as that may have been a while ago, a recently reported increase of robberies in which tourists and business visitors were targeted outside leading Dar es Salaam hotels does suggest that the mindset of criminals has changed, a stark reminder that the authorities in Tanzania have to take this very seriously indeed and be publicly seen to put safety and security measures in place that can re-assure tour operators and tourist / business visitors alike.

Meanwhile Tanzania’s Minister of Natural Resources and Tourism Amb. Khamis Kagesheki and the Minister for Home Affairs Dr. Emmanuel Nchimbi have travelled to the Serengeti from Dar es Salaam and had a series of meetings with local administration, police, security and national park officials to get a first hand update on the ongoing investigations and efforts to find and arrest the gang members. Elders from nearby villages were drawn into some of the meetings and urged to cooperate fully in finding the culprits to avoid a sharp downturn of tourism to the area, subsequent loss of jobs and income, and have reportedly agreed to provide information to security personnel.

Condolences are expressed to the family and friends of the victims.