Tanzania’s tour operators on Sunday called upon the government to reduce by half entrance fees and other charges for non-East African tourists in an effort to boost the number of tourists visiting the country’s tourist destinations.
Willy Chambulo, chairman of the Tanzania Association of Tour Operators (TATO), made the call at an association’s brief function to welcome 2015, which was also attended by Tanzania’s Minister of Natural Resources and Tourism, Lazaro Nyalandu.
Chambulo said for more than ten months, the number of tourists has gone down in the country’s northern tourist circuit.
“As tour operators, we discovered two factors to be behind the decline of the number of tourists visiting the national parks, Ebola threats and sporadic terrorist attacks in Kenya’s capital Nairobi and its coastal city of Mombasa,” he said.
There are reasonable number of tourists who get into Tanzania through Kenya, particularly the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport, he said, “the number was also seen dropping due to those terrorist attacks.”
“Ebola, which hit the western African countries, also posed a serious threat to the country’s tourism as some tourists were of the view that the disease has affected the entire African continent, something which is not true,” Chambulo said.
He said the truth is East African nations including Tanzania were free from Ebola.
“We are asking the government to reduce by half entrance fees and other government’s taxes for tourists getting into the country and national parks,” he said.
Currently, Tanzania charges 50 U.S. dollars every day for each non-East African tourist and 1,500 Tanzanian Shillings (about 0.84 U.S. dollar) for local tourist to get into its national parks. There are other charges including motor vehicle entry fees.
The chairman expressed his fear that if nothing is done to rescue the situation more tourist hotels will close down.
Other players in the tourism sector have been asking Tanzania to reduce airline landing fees in its international airports, as one way to attract more airlines to land in the country and by doing so, the country would get more tourists.
Nyalandu assured tourists that Tanzania is one of the safest tourist destinations in Africa, hence there no need for them to fear about.
“Tanzania is taking the issue of safety to our visitors very seriously, that’s why were encouraging more tourists to come and enjoy the natural beauty of this nation,” said the minister.
He said no new fees will be introduced for tourists who are getting into Tanzania’s tourist destinations.
“This is one of the measures in place to boost the number of tourists, which last year was seen to go down as a result of Ebola threat,” he said.
Apart from being the country’s major foreign exchange earner, tourism sector employs tens of thousands of Tanzanians.