In a bid to hasten up recovery from the impact of Covid-19, Tanzania has set up a National Convention Bureau to promote conference tourism as a way of speeding up the industry’s recovery.
The Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Tourism Dr Aloyce Nzuki, recently said that Tanzania’s diplomatic offices in various countries around the world will be used to appeal for more international conferences to be held in Tanzania.
Nzuki explained that the National Convention Bureau will function as a department under the coordination of the Tanzania Tourist Board (TTB) and will handle all arrangements and bookings for international conferences, symposiums, conventions, and other meetings.
He described conference tourism as a key tourism product that has not been properly tapped in the past, despite its huge potential to complement the numerous beach and wildlife attractions that overflow in Tanzania.
Last month, the ministry launched an electronic database to monitor the quality of tourist and visitor accommodation services in the country.
Dr Nzuki said the database will monitor income statuses among visitors to the country and their individual abilities to afford service costs at accommodation facilities, other than expensive hotels and lodges which offer higher and expensive packages.
According to the Permanent Secretary, the accommodation services in Tanzania will match East African Hotel Classification criteria to determine the quality-of-service delivery to tourists and other visitors to Tanzania and other East African Community (EAC) states.
The electronic database will also help tourism authorities to get information from the Approved Accommodation Facilities in Tanzania as to ensure quality services to clients to match with the East African Community standards.
Approved Accommodation Facilities are the Town Hotels, Vacation Hotels, Lodges, Motels, Tented Camps, Villas, Cottages and Serviced Apartments, and Restaurants.
By end of last year, Tanzania had a total of 308 registered accommodation facilities with Star Class, up from 67 in 2015.
The World Bank recommended in December that Tanzania and other African countries should focus on tourism diversification to cushion the impact of Covid-19 on their respective economies.
The chairman of the Pretoria-based African Tourism Board, Cuthbert Ncube, said that regional and intra-Africa tourism development could be an optional step that will help African countries alleviate Covid-19 impacts on tourism.
Tanzania is targeting to attract five million tourists annually by 2025 from the current 1.8 million, and earn $6 billion per year from the $2.6 billion figure recorded before the coronavirus pandemic.
Tourism was the leading source of foreign exchange earnings in Tanzania before the Covid-19 outbreak.
According to official data, industry earnings reached $2.5 billion in 2019, but by the end of 2020, it had dropped to about $598 million mainly due to the Covid-19 crisis.