Tanzania tour operators, government devise unified response to COVID-19 outbreak
Key players in Tanzania’s tourism industry have come together for a unified response to the deadly coronavirus outbreak.
This comes amid outbreak of coronavirus in Tanzania’s northern tourism circuit capital of Arusha on 16th March 2020 when the first case was confirmed.
Tanzania Association of Tour Operators (TATO) is spearheading the efforts in collaboration with the government, trying to ensure tourists remain safe to travel within the country.
TATO CEO, Mr Sirili Akko held a videoconference on Tuesday 17th March 2020 with the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Natural Resources and Tourism, Prof Adolf Mkenda and agreed to devise a unified response strategy to safeguard tourists against coronavirus pandemic.
“As we all know, the tourism and hospitality industry is most vulnerable and prone to the effects of the current global pandemic, owing to its nature of the operation and global chain of interdependence” Mr Akko writes to TATO members, advising them to remain vigilant as the government takes all necessary measures to keep the Covid-19 outbreak under control.
TATO boss added: “I urge our dear tourists not to cancel their trips, instead, if must then postpone to the apt time where the pandemic will be put under control”.
In order to abide by rules of avoiding public gatherings as much as possible, he said, plans are underway to conduct the tourism stakeholders meeting online.
“You are strongly encouraged to work from home and advise your staff to do so whenever possible” Mr Akko said in the e-mail circulated to tour operators.
He further advised the tour companies to embrace video-conferencing, especially when there is no need for physical presence such as senior management meetings.
“Be a source of courage, advice staff and community to take precautionary measures and do not forward the messages, which instills fear and panic,” he writes in his e-mail to tour operators.
Mr Akko assured the tour operators that his office and staff would remain at their disposal and they should feel free to contact them or use members WhatsApp groups in case of any eventuality.
Tanzania has become the latest East Africa country to confirm the outbreak of coronavirus, as neighboring countries of Kenya and Rwanda shut borders as fears of contagion escalated.
Health Minister Ummy Mwalimu said in the first case, a 46-year-old Tanzanian woman had tested positive for the illness after returning from Belgium on March 15, and was recovering in a hospital in Arusha.
Ms Mwalimu said the woman, who had been staying with someone sick from coronavirus in Belgium, was not detected by temperature scanners at the airport but reported herself for testing.
“All in all, this is an imported case, and the woman is improving and continues with treatment,” she said, adding authorities would trace all the patient’s contacts since she arrived in Tanzania, and place them under quarantine.
On Wednesday 18, March 2020, Tanzania announced has confirmed two more cases bring its total to three.
As a result, Tanzania government had to ban all forms of public gatherings, calling upon the public to observe the caution.
In a live television broadcasting, the Prime Minister, Kassim Majaliwa said tht the government has decided to temporarily close all schools from kindergarten to advanced levels for 30-days, suspend sports activities, political rallies as part of plan to prevent the epidemic to avoid widespread social disruption and economic upheaval.