World Bank: tourism reforms would help locals

A recently released report gives Tanzania tips on how to benefit from tourism.

A recently released World Bank report gives Tanzania tips on how to benefit from tourism: focus on areas other than Arusha and Zanzibar, get more locals involved and do away with complex taxation systems. Photo: Daniel Hayduk

Our tourism is doing well but for nation-wide benefits to increase in the future the government to strive for financial transparency and keep locals in mind, the World Bank has advised.

“Tanzania is in a good place with tourism and yet it could do considerably better,” says World Bank Tanzania Country Director Philippe Dongier.

“The country received one million visitors in 2013 bringing $1.5 billion US dollars in foreign exchange earnings, which is remarkable by any account. But there is potential for further growth.”

But this isn’t just a wishlist to be fulfilled someday when it’s convenient– time is of the essence, says Dongier.

“Some of the needed reforms are quite urgent as the status quo could be costly for the country.”

The World Bank report, released on January 29,  gives three key suggestions to aid in the positive expansion of tourism:

  • diversify tourism activities away from Arusha and Zanzibar
  • integrate with more local communities and local small operators to share benefits
  • revamp the complex and unpredictable system of taxes and fees

At the moment, tourism employs nearly 500,000 Tanzanians and accounts for over 3 percent of Tanzania’s GDP and may reach as high as 10 percent if indirect impact is considered.

Despite these statistics, “the vast majority of Tanzanians have yet to share in these benefits to the fullest extent possible,” says the report.

“As it is today, local communities adjacent to major tourism attractions remain among the poorest in the country.”

Tanzania hopes to double the growth rate of the tourism sector by 2025, but  World Bank economist Jacques Morriset, who authored the report says for that to happen, drastic changes need to take place.

“This target is indeed achievable, but only if there is a change in policies and mindsets among all stakeholders.”

A TV advertising effort to re-brand Tanzania’s tourism industry is to be launched next month, with advertising to be displayed worldwide on CNN and BBC World Service.

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