FORMER Tanzanian President Mwalimu Julius Nyerere stood firm and championed tourism development. He committed himself to develop tourism and ensure that Tanzania becomes the best African safari destination.
He advocated tourism through his political leadership and formulated several policies to guide tourism development in Tanzania, soon after independence from Britain.
`During British rule in East Africa, all tourist business and other travel activities were based in Kenya’s capital of Nairobi, with Tanzania and Uganda benefit little or nothing. Big safari companies were operating from Nairobi for the rest of East Africa.
But, soon after independence from Britain, Mwalimu Nyerere championed tourism development in Tanzania through integration and establishment of tourist hotels, lodges and tourism management.
In his famous quotes, Mwalimu said; “I know that Europeans and Americans are able to see big game in our country. It is my view that wild animals will be Tanganyika’s (Tanzania) third most important source of revenue after sisal and diamonds”.
In a several occasion, Mwalimu Nyerere was quoted saying; “If the saying ‘A guest always brings cheer’ has a meaning, then, it is more true in respect of tourists than any other visitors. For that reason alone, there is need for us to welcome our tourists properly and to take care of them.
But it is not entirely because of trade that I am speaking these words about tourists”, he added. Mwalimu Nyerere further said, “To have visitors is a special honor, and to treat a visitor well and hospitality is an act of good manners.
When visitors come to Tanzania, it is an honor to this country, and they should leave with a good opinion of our land. A visitor who comes to Tanzania, stays for a while and leaves praising this country, is a good ambassador of us abroad, and he is an ambassador who costs us nothing.”
Tourism Consultant and Hotel professional Mr. Leopold Kabendera said that Mwalimu laid a strong foundation of tourism development in Tanzania which the nation is cherishing today. Mr. Kabendera said Mwalimu Nyerere established the first tourist hotels in Tanzania with a national image where Tanzanians were trained to run managerial duties.
Counting from the present Kilimanjaro Hotel, New Africa Hotel, Kunduchi Beach Hotel; Mwalimu had initiated their development to safeguard Tanzania’s hospitality industry with full Tanzanian commitment and national identity.
During his leadership, Mwalimu Nyerere laid a strong tourism foundation that Tanzania cherishes today. Between 1965 and 1977 he championed development of tourist lodges in wildlife protected areas, while looking seriously at environmental protection and nature sustainability.
Among the first tourist hotel projects which Mwalimu advocated were the establishment of wildlife lodges in Ngorongoro Conservation Area Authority (NCAA), Serengeti National Park, Lake Manyara National Park and Mikumi National Park. Mr. Kabendera says that Mwalimu designed and established the Tanzania Tourist Corporation (TTC) to manage and supervise all tourist services in Tanzania as to safeguard the national interests through natural resources.
On the other side, Mwalimu had a convincing power to attract various countries to train Tanzanians in tourism and hotel management, a result which made Tanzania to build a strong tourist base through sustainable use of natural resources, mainly the wildlife which is the major source of tourist gains to Tanzania.
“These commitments show that Mwalimu was a champion in development of tourism, which is now a leading source of foreign currency in Tanzania”, Mr. Kabendera said.
He championed construction of hotels in key wildlife parks, tourist cities of Dar es Salaam on the Indian Ocean coast, Arusha and Moshi in Tanzania’s northern tourist circuit and Morogoro to accommodate tourists visiting southern Tanzania’s tourist circuit.
In realizing that tourism as an export industry could play an important role in foreign exchange earnings, Mwalimu Nyerere established the Tanzania Tourist Corporation (TTC) in 1969 as an arm for development and promoting tourism.
The Tanzania Tourist Corporation has taken a leaf from experiences taken in various tourist organizations across the world. The corporation changed into Tanzania Tourist Board which is operating as the apex of tourism marketing and promotion inside and outside Tanzania.
Banking on strong foundation which Mwalimu Nyerere laid on tourism development, the number of tourists visiting Nature and Wildlife protected areas in Tanzania rose from 900,000 visitors in the year 2011 to one million last year.
The recently designed International Marketing Strategy has targeted to attracttwo million visitors by 2018. During independence in 1961, there were only 7,350 tourists who were recorded to visit Tanzania (Tanganyika), mostly entering the country from Kenya.
Today, the number of tourists visiting Tanzania stands at 1.2 million visitors. In 2016 the sector recorded an increase in the number of international tourist arrival by 12 per cent to 1,284,279 from 1,137,182 recorded in 2015.
As a result, tourism earnings increased from US dollars 1.9 billion in 2015 to US dollars billion 2.1 in 2016, larger attributed to continued macroeconomic reforms and enhanced promotional efforts.
Growing number of tourists visiting Tanzania every year had so far, placed this upcoming African safari destination atop, among other destinations in the world.
Tourists visiting Tanzania will join other Tanzanians to pray for MwalimuNyerere, the leader who stood firm to develop the tourist industry and wildlife conservation which Tanzanians and other people across the world are cherishing today.