It’s no surprise that airlines are increasing their seat capacity to Tanzania, now that tourism has become this East African country’s largest revenue sector, outstripping even agriculture. And this year, for the first time ever, Americans have become the largest single tourism market for Tanzania worldwide. In order to meet the continually-growing demand for transportation, Qatar Airways responded by announcing last week that it has increased its passenger capacity on the Dar es Salaam-Doha route by more than 1,000 seats per month.

Since many passengers fly through Doha to and from key cities in the US (Newark and Washington DC – Dulles), Great Britain and Europe, (as well as China, India and key cities in the Gulf), this increase represents a significant development in air access to Tanzania, The Land of Kilimanjaro, Zanzibar and the Serengeti.

Tanzania tourism has been growing at a steady rate for the past seven years, noted Hon. Mme. Shamsa S. Mwangunga, Tanzania’s minister of Natural Resources and Tourism. She told a recent Sullivan Summit Conference of thousands of influential foreign and local leaders held in Arusha, Tanzania, that, “Estimates are that more than 750,000 tourists will visit Tanzania this year, and the expectation is that the sector will earn a record $1 billion (USD) for the economy this year. We also project that by 2010, Tanzania will receive one million tourists, up from 719,031 last year. Further estimates are that by 2011, travel and tourism will account for $7 trillion (USD) of combined tourism and related economic activities worldwide, and, as an effect, 260 million jobs will become available within and outside of Tanzania.”

Explained Mwangunga, “Tourism is also an important economic sector in terms of employment within the country and also worldwide. It has benefitted hotels, airlines, travel agents, convention centers, the hospitality industry, and a host of related service providers.”

Peter Mwenguo, managing director of the Tanzania Tourist Board, commented, “Increased air access, now including the Qatar Airways expansion, new luxury hotels on the mainland and Zanzibar and improved roads and infrastructure on safari circuits are major factors contributing to Tanzania’s remarkable tourism growth. Its natural beauty, national parks, game reserves, world heritage sites, cultural richness and friendliness of its people, as well as its stable democratic government, also make Tanzania an increasingly favored stand-alone destination for visitors.”

According to Amant Macha, TTB marketing director, “Reinforcing Brand Tanzania with American travelers, as well as Travel Industry professionals in the US, Tanzania Tourist Board (TTB) launched a two-prong campaign. Targeting the consumer in September, 2007, TTB inaugurated a TV campaign, which aired on CNN, CHLN, CNN Airport, and TTB then initiated a “Tanzania Travel Specialist” course of study with Travel Agent University. The response was overwhelming, with more than 600 travel agents passing the test and qualifying as Tanzania Specialists in the first four months of the course offering. This too accounts for the huge increase in tourism.”