President’s SOS message to Tanzania tourist sector

DAR ES SALAAM, Tanzania (eTN) – Good news reached Tanzania tourism when President Jakaya Kikwete announced what could be a special offer to rescue the sector from the global falling economy.

In his public address last week, Mr. Kikwete said his government is taking serious measures to rescue Tanzania’s tourism sector, which has recorded a sharp drop in tourist arrivals due to global economic downturn.

He said between seven and 18 percent of tourists once planned to visit Tanzania canceled their trips while 20 to 30 percent of employees lost their jobs in the Indian Ocean tourist Island of Zanzibar.

Measures to be taken with immediate effect were the cutting down visa fees from US$100 to US$50 per a tourist entering Tanzania.

Cutting down or reviewing visa fees would make Tanzania compete with other African safari destinations including neighboring Kenya, which had slashed its visa fees to US$25 per a visitor.

Mr. Kikwete further said tourists who are currently looking at possible means to save money would look for alternative and cheap destinations to spend their holidays if Tanzania fails to review its entry visa regulations by cutting down the fees.

“A tourist would prefer to go where is cheap,” he said. “Tanzanian animals are similar to those in other African destinations, so no reason for a tourist to come here if finds our visa rates higher. We must review the fees to attract more tourists.”

He added, “Just imagine a tourist coming to Tanzania in a company of five children and think the amount of money he/she has to pay to get visas for all.”

Other measures in his SOS message to the tourist stakeholders including temporary taxation review to hotel operators and a two-year holiday for hotel operators with bank loans. This SOS will allow hotel proprietors holding bank loans to be exempted from bank interest from the amount they borrowed and extend the period to re-pay their loans for two more years under protection of the Tanzania government.

The Tanzania Association of Tour Operators (TATO) had earlier advised the government of Tanzania to review visa entry and park fees, at least, to give a relief to holiday makers visiting Tanzania’s premier tourist attractive sites.