A new Tourism potential is about to be unlocked In Tanzania. All roads and international air routes will in the near future, be leading to the Southern circuit, as the tour operators have major plans to open new tourism revenue streams.
Complimenting the Government’s drive to transform the Southern tourism circuit, the key tourism players are currently scouting for apt partners to invest heavily in accommodations as part of a strategy to open up the area for travel.
It is understood, the Fifth Government under President Dr John Pombe Magufuli is working overtime to put up hardware infrastructures as it seeks to unleash the full economic potential of the area.
Impressed by the government move to designate Iringa as the Southern circuit hub, Tanzania Association of Tour Operators (TATO) last week deployed a delegation led by its Vice-Chairman, Mr Henry Kimambo to identify new potential members in its effort to establish a chapter in the area to cater for the entire Southern circuit.
“We want to replicate the best practices from the northern tourism circuit to Southern shred,” Mr Kimambo told the tour operators in Iringa during the engagement meeting.
He revealed that TATO plans to bring its services close to its members in Southern circuit, comprising Morogoro, Iringa, Njombe and Mbeya anytime soon.
This implies that the 36-year-old advocacy agency for a multi-billion dollar industry, with its base in northern safari capital of Arusha, will soon have a liaison office in Iringa to take care its Southern circuit members.
Mr Kimambo said that his association was aware that the Southern circuit based tour operators not only have their own different issues but also need strong ties with their northern tourism circuit peers if the tourism potential is to be unleashed.
Presenting the benefits before the Southern Circuit tour operators, TATO Chief Executive Officer, Mr Sirili Akko said lobbying and advocacy is a core service offered by his association.
“Members enjoy the conducive business environment as TATO represent a collective voice for private tour operators in lobbying and advocate towards the common goal of improving the business climate in Tanzania” Mr Akko explained.
TATO also provides unparalleled networking opportunities for its members, allowing individuals tour operators or company to connect with their peers, mentors, and other industry leaders and policymakers.
As a member, one is in the unique position to attend conventions, seminars, award dinners and other related events with like-minded professionals in the field. These events are attended by the brightest minds and are a hotbed of ideas and collaborative efforts.
“An association’s annual General meeting represents an incredible opportunity for members to meet and network with the largest gathering of their peers during the year” Mr Sirili explained.
TATO also trains its members on key issues such as labour laws, tax compliance, corporate social responsibility, conservation issues, among others, he noted.
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As if that was not enough, TATO members also enjoy the service of having a platform where they channel their operational or policy related challenges to the government for a solution.
Members are also bonded together as they advocate for their peers and share their challenges and triumphs with one another, TATO CEO explained.
“Indeed, TATO provides members with a competitive advantage because they become active, informed members of their industry” Mr Sirili said, stressing that his members also get updates on all issues on tourism and related sectors by providing resources, information, and opportunities they might not have had otherwise.
Thanks to USAID PROTECT Project for building the capacity of TATO, an umbrella organization with over 300 members, for it to become an efficient advocacy agency for the tourism sector.
Project coordinator, Mr Jumapili Chenga said the scaling up membership base for TATO is one of his scheme’s components.
Iringa Region Tourism Officer, Ms Hawa Mwichaga was grateful that at the long last a strategy to unlock the Southern tourism circuit has stepped up a gear.
Tour operators from Iringa, Mbeya and other regions namely Ernest Luwala, Nancy Mfugale, Modestus Mdemu, Serafina Lanzi supported the idea of joining TATO as a concrete step to spur tourism in southern circuit.
Natural Resources and Tourism Ministry’s officer-in-charge for Southern Circuit, Ms Tully Kulanya said her zone has a great potential for tourism business.
“The Southern Parks are the perfect destinations for travelers looking for plentiful and rare wildlife in a remote area of Africa” Ms Kulanya noted.
The national parks namely Mikumi, Udzungwa, Kitulo Ruaha, as well as Selous Game Reserve, have fewer visitors and give the feeling of being all-alone. Activities include game drives in open vehicles, boat safaris, and walking safaris. These safaris include flights between the parks.
Tanzania’s earnings from tourism jumped 7.13 percent in 2018, helped by an increase in arrivals from foreign visitors, the government has said.
Tourism is the main source of hard currency in Tanzania, best known for its beaches, wildlife safaris and Mount Kilimanjaro.
Revenues from tourism fetched $2.43 billion for the year, up from $2.19 billion in 2017, Prime Minister, Mr Kassim Majaliwa said in a presentation to parliament.
Tourist arrivals totaled 1.49 million in 2018, compared with 1.33 million a year ago, Majaliwa said.
President John Magufuli’s government said it wants to bring in 2 million visitors a year by 2020.