Tanzanian president campaigns for quick African tourism development

Taking an advantage of the eighth Sullivan Summit here in Tanzania’s northern city of Arusha, Tanzania’s president campaigned to woo Americans of African origin, urging them to come to Africa to visit their ancestral lands in the continent.

In his keynote address to over 4,000 delegates of the eighth Sullivan Summit, Tanzanian President Jakaya Kikwete spoke perfectly as a senior tourist campaigner for his country, telling the African Diaspora in the United States to come back and visit their lands of origin.

“Please come and visit Africa and invest in this vast, rich and tourist attractive continent. Tanzania assures you of good return of your capital and protection,” he told the delegates, most of them from North America.

He said Africa needs foreign investments in tourism and the African Diaspora in the US were the most optional in taking advantages of their ancestral continent to invest.

Turning into an authoritative tourist campaigner, President Kikwete said Africa has little shares in global tourist gains despite the continent’ s rich attractions made up of wildlife, attractive geological features and history.

He said tourism in now the leading economic sector in Tanzania standing the first foreign exchange earner then mining coming second and communications sector third.

Growing at a steady rate for the past seven years, Tanzania’s tourism earnings has reached US$1 billion, which is nearly triple the amount that the agriculture industry contributes to Tanzania’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP). Agriculture has been the leading contributor to the East African country’s coffers for most of its history.

It is estimated that more than 800,000 tourists are expected to arrive in the country this year, bringing about US$1 billion.

Increased air access, with many carriers now flying direct to Tanzania, new luxury hotels on the mainland and Zanzibar, improved infrastructure and tarmac roads on safari circuits are also major factors contributing to Tanzania tourism’s success story.

Over the last 10 years, Tanzania has become a stand-alone destination. In the past, many tour operators to East Africa offered Tanzania as an add-on or extension to other countries. Now, there is such a great demand by clients to spend their entire time in Tanzania that the same tour operators offer more than one Tanzania-only itinerary.

In an effort to reinforce Brand Tanzania with US travelers and travel industry professionals, the Tanzania Tourist Board (TTB) launched a two-prong campaign. Targeting consumers in September, 2007, TTB inaugurated a TV campaign, its first-ever, which aired on CNN, CHLN, CNN Airport, and CNN.com.

Recently, the country hosted the 33rd annual congress of the Africa Travel Association which drew more than 300 travel industry professionals and now the Leon H. Sullivan Summit VIII currently in session. These two high profile conferences raised the East African country’s travel and tourism status.

Tanzania, the largest country in East Africa, is focused on wildlife conservation and sustainable tourism, with approximately 28 percent of the land protected by the government.

It boasts 15 National Parks and 33 game reserves and the world’s acclaimed Ngorongoro Crater, often called “The 8th Wonder of the World”; Olduvai Gorge, the Cradle of Mankind, the Selous Game Reserve, the world’s largest wildlife reserve and Ruaha, now expected to be the largest National Park in the African continent.

Some 300 delegates of the ongoing Leon Sullivan Summit visited Ngorongoro wildlife park and about US$40,000 for the park. Besides providing revenue for the national park and visiting the famous Ngorongoro Crater, summit delegates had the opportunity of visiting a Cultural Tourist Enclosure in Eseto area at Oloilobi village in Ngorongoro ward, which gave them a big thrill.

While in the Crater, the delegates were delighted by environment and surroundings, which are in fact unique on this planet, where human beings, livestock and wild animals live together in peace.

Reverend Jesse Jackson, the once US presidential candidate under Democratic banner, said in the Crater that the tourist wealth that abounds in Africa needs quick development.

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