In a significant development to boost tourism and diplomatic relations, Tanzania is gearing up to establish direct flights to and from the United States, with the inaugural routes anticipated to commence in 2024.
According to The Citizen News, a plane carrying more than 100 tour and travel agents from the United States of America had landed in the famous Northern Circuit, a region that has been the hub of Tanzania’s tourism for decades now.
Mr John Mongera, the Arusha Regional Commissioner, and the guest of honour were at hand to welcome them to the city. Along with him were the Tanzania Tourist Board’s Director General Damas Mfugale, Mr Joseph Kapinga, a representative from the Tanzanian Embassy in Washington, DC, and Mr Jonathan Howard, a representative of the US Embassy in Tanzania.
In his presence, the guest of honour acknowledged the presence of retired Justice Thomas Mihayo, the former chairperson of the Tanzania Tourist Board, who was instrumental in the early stages of branding Tanzania. The conference hall at the prestigious Gran Melia hotel in Arusha was equipped with three big screens playing thrilling videos of Tanzania’s tourism attractions, and traditional dancers from the Cultural Arts Centre Makumira busted to the scene and their brownish batik, which the Americans watched in awe.
Mr Mongera was there to represent the government’s relentless work on their goal of reaching 5 million tourists by the year 2025. In doing so, they had to work tirelessly with the American government, whose citizens make up the largest number of tourists coming to Tanzania. “From the statistics, we are aware that most of the tourists visiting Tanzania are from the United States, and for this, we appreciate US travel agents for your valuable contribution in making a tourism business a success in our region and country,” elaborated Mr Mongera.
The government’s commitment to promoting Tanzania’s tourism, under the brand “Tanzania Unforgettable,” marketing the local and international market, led to a bold strategic move, and on this day, Mr Mfugale, the Tanzania Tourist Board Managing Director representing the ministry of Tourism announced the groundbreaking agreement reached with the US government to have direct chartered flights from the US to Tanzania that will commence in 2024. “This is a ground-breaking initiative, and we will undoubtedly open new horizons for civil struggle between our nations, fostering enhanced accessibility,” he reiterated. “It all started with a documentary called The Royal Tour, which was the concept of President Samia Suluhu.
Her vision was to show the world the real Tanzania, in all its beauty, culture, diversity, and glory. She was even featured in the film! The Royal Tour motivated me to learn about Tanzania,” said Lynn McCormick, a US business partner with Excellent Guides Tanzania, one of the local tour and travel companies that are beneficiaries of the Royal Tour’s success in the US, has been able to coordinate the 120 travel agents from the US who have been able to visit Tanzania.
The intricate details or the exact date and month when the direct flights would begin in 2024 are not fully disclosed as we wait for the government for more details, but it is sure to address one of the issues that were of concern to many American tourists, which is the long distance and more than 30 hours an American has to travel just to get to Tanzania, and direct flights will be the antidote to that as the government is still improving conditions for penetrating the American market. Tourism is the leading foreign exchange earner, beating the mining sector, and the ministry of Tourism is still identifying avenues to improve and reach the ambitious $5 million tourist goal by 2024.
Tanzania has in its sovereignty all natural resources to achieve that, from the Ngorongoro Crater National Park, the birthplace of mankind, the 8th Wonder of the World, and the only national park with four UNESCO awards, to a marvel with no replica anywhere else in the world, the highest free-standing mountain in the world, the Serengeti, and that is only in the northern wildlife circuit with the potential to promote the southern tourist attractions that have so many unique features to offer and are less explored.
“Despite this fact, the number of Americans visiting Tanzania is still low compared to the number of Americans visiting other countries, including other African countries. In 2021, for instance, it is estimated that almost 50 million Americans visited other countries for tourism purposes. If only Tanzania could get just 5 percent of this, it would be a great success.” said Mr Kapinga, a representative of Tanzania’s embassy in the US
The gala was meant to share knowledge and network with the American tour and travel operators, as Mr Jonathan Howard from the US Embassy assured the visitors of their safety in Tanzania and the potential to have an economic partnership that will go beyond tourism as Tanzania still has opportunities for American investors. The gala was also meant to provide the highest form of Tanzanian hospitality and entertainment, and the Culture Dance Group was welcomed again to the floor for their second performance as the aroma of the Tanzanian cuisine in the next room was all over the room.
The speakers noticed that and promised to be done with the formal event and let the tourists grab a plate and taste Tanzanian cuisine. “I understand you all are headed to dinner. So we’re not going to take too much of your time. But I just wanted to welcome you to the US Embassy. We are focused on building two-way trade, tourism investments, and partnerships with different countries. And I think in the next few days you’re going to see just the incredible breath of amazement. It is really an incredible country, and I hope you all will head back transformed and energised to encourage people to travel to Tanzania,” said Jonathan, a representative from the US Embassy in Dar es Salaam.
“I just wanted to highlight, you know, that the focus of tourism and travel is not just to get people out here that have incredible experiences, but that tourism is a key driver of conservation and a key driver of economic development and progress,” he added. The impact of the Royal Tour by President Samia cannot be understated; in a span of a year, the government has created an environment for local tour companies to penetrate the US market in a way that was unthinkable before. With our Tanzania embassy in Washington, DC, being at the forefront of the country with the largest number of tourists coming to Tanzania, the embassy has played a vital role in ensuring the government’s target is achieved.
“The embassy has been participating in many tourism,travel, and hunting exhibitions and events organised in various places in the United States to promote Tanzania’s tourism. In the same vein, we have been collaborating with tour and travel agents in the United States of America on various events to promote the culture, traditions, and tourism of Tanzania
The embassy believes that such efforts will quickly boost our tourist attractions and, visibility, and increase the number of American tourists visiting Tanzania,” assured Mr Kapinga, who was representing Ambassador Else Kanza, who, as the head of the Tanzania mission in the US tirelessly worked to remove the restrictions that made direct flights not achievable in the past. President Samia’s participation and drive towards promoting tourism and personally launching the Royal Tour in the US could have been the catalyst that made the achievement a reality.