Africa tourism

How tourism dollars end up in the pockets of poor Tanzanians

Better days for impoverished communities close to Tanzanian tourist routes are in sight, thanks to an ambitious proposed strategy that aims to position a multi-billion dollar tourism industry to boost the local economy.

The Integrated Tourism and Local Economic Development (LED) Forward Plan will provide an appropriate way to transfer tourists’ money into the pockets of a critical mass of ordinary people living close to the tourist routes of the North, South, west and coasts of the country.

The United Nations Development Program (UNDP) in Tanzania, through its Green Growth and Innovation Disruption project, is working with the Tanzania Association of Tour Operators (TATO) and UNWTO to support preparedness of the integrated tourism and LED strategy.

The plan aims to improve tourism recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic and identify ways for businesses and communities to benefit from tourist attractions and in turn focus on sustainable asset conservation.

It will also enable all players across the tourism value chain to become competitive, resilient and effectively integrated into the industry.

The strategy will focus on growth, poverty reduction and social inclusion, as it will promote participation, dialogue and connect people to surrounding resources for decent employment and quality life for men and women.

“Clearly, a key aspect of sustaining the tremendous benefits and contribution of tourism to the economy is ensuring local ownership and traction on tourism development strategies,” said Dr Josaphat Kweka, CEO and Principal Consultant of Talanta International Limited who prepares the document.

“That is, the sustainability of tourism assets significantly depends on the extent to which the surrounding local community enjoys and benefits directly or indirectly from its development or growth,” Dr Kweka said recently during a stakeholder meeting in Arusha, highlighting:

“A strategy to ensure that tourism drives local economic development is of the utmost importance.”

On the occasion of the strategic meeting of the main actors on the roadmap of the master plan, the resident representative of the UNDP in Tanzania, Ms. Christine Musisi, stressed the need to involve the communities adjacent to the tourist circuits not only in the efforts conservation, but also in the sharing of benefits arising from the industry. .

“As UNDP, we envision that the LED Strategy can catalyze transformative change by strengthening backward and forward linkages within the tourism ecosystem through job creation, stimulating innovative business models and contributing to livelihoods,” Ms. Musisi said.

In developing the strategy, she explained, UNDP will collaborate with UNWTO and TATO, and will be guided by the government on how best to implement the plan once it is formulated. .

Tourism offers Tanzania the long-term potential to create good jobs, generate foreign exchange earnings, provide revenue to support the preservation and maintenance of natural and cultural heritage, and broaden the tax base for finance development spending and poverty reduction efforts.

The World Bank’s latest economic update in Tanzania, Transforming Tourism: Toward a Sustainable, Resilient, and Inclusive Sector, highlights that tourism is central to Tanzania’s economy, livelihoods, and poverty reduction. countries, especially for women, who make up 72% of all tourism workers. sector.

Tourism can empower women in many ways, especially through job creation and income-generating opportunities in small and large businesses related to tourism and hospitality.

As one of the industries with the highest number of female employees and entrepreneurs, tourism can be a tool for women to unlock their potential, helping them to fully engage and lead in all aspects of the society.

The UN agency says that as one of the most important and fastest growing economic industries in the world, tourism is well placed to foster economic growth and development at all levels and provides income through job creation.

The development of sustainable tourism and its impact at the community level can be linked to national poverty reduction goals, those related to the promotion of entrepreneurship and small businesses, and the empowerment of less advantaged groups, in particular the young people and women.

Experts say tourism can boost agricultural productivity by promoting the production, use and sale of local products in tourist destinations and their full integration into the tourism value chain.

In addition, agritourism, a growing tourism segment, can complement traditional agricultural activities. The resulting increase in income in local communities can lead to more resilient agriculture while improving the value of the tourist experience.

In real terms, tourism is a lucrative industry in Tanzania, creating 1.3 million decent jobs and generating $2.6 billion a year, equivalent to 18-30% of GDP and tourism revenue. country’s export, respectively.

However, the transfer of dollars accumulated by international tourists to the poor near tourist attractions has been an elephant in the living room that no one wants to talk about.

For example, many dollars are generated by the famous tourist circuit in northern Tanzania, but very little trickles into the pockets of ordinary people living nearby.

According to the SNV study “Tracing the Tourism Dollar in Northern Tanzania”, while the northern safari circuit attracts 700,000 tourists with combined revenues of nearly $950 million, only $171 million is 18% goes to surrounding communities through multiplier effects.

However, the UNWTO expert asserts that cultural tourism is a key and effective model for transferring money from tourists to the poor more than any other method.

“To offer complementary products that are as unique as possible by making the best use of local know-how, cultural attractions – traditional healers, crafts, cooking – cooking classes, stories of chameleons, birds, snakes, nightjars. Create win-win situations, focus on improving length of stay and local spending through new activities,” said UNWTO expert, Mr. Marcel Leijzer.

TATO Chairman Mr. Wilbard Chambulo said the strategy should also focus on how to increase the number of tourists visiting Tanzania as its multiplier effects will definitely reach a critical mass of ordinary people.

TATO CEO Mr. Sirili Akko thanked UNDP for its generous support to the organization and tourism at the most critical time and commended UNWTO for its loyal patronage of the industry.

“We thank our United Nations partners for the support and sponsorship and our government for its guidance, TATO remains a reliable partner in boosting local content, especially on the industry supply chain,” noted Mr. Akko.

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LEGEND; UNDP Resident Representative in Tanzania, Ms. Christine Musisi addressing tourism stakeholders in Arusha.