TODAY, Tanzania joins the world to mark World Tourism Day (WTD), which is celebrated each year on September 27 since 1980.
This date was chosen in 1970, when the Statutes of the United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) were adopted.
This year’s theme is “Tourism and Rural Development”, which fits well our very purpose as a country and nation.
It’s a day of profound significance due to the number of national parks, game reserves and protected areas and the fauna and flora – tourist attractions – and the World Heritage Sites (WHS) we should take more pride in.
WHS are places of importance to cultural or natural heritage as stipulated in the Unesco World Heritage Convention, established in 1972.
Tanzania ratified it (became a party to the Convention) on August 2, 1977, thus making its historical sites eligible for inclusion on the list. To date, according to Unesco, Tanzania has seven Unesco World Heritage Sites.
They are Kondoa Rock-Art Sites, Ruins of Kilwa Kisiwani and Ruins of Songo Mnara and Stone Town of Zanzibar. Others are Kilimanjaro National Park, Selous Game Reserve, Serengeti National Park and Ngorongoro Conservation Area.
There are also five sites on the tentative list – that is an inventory of those properties Tanzania (as a States Party) intends to consider for nomination.
These are Oldonyo Murwak, Gombe National Park, Jozani- Chwaka Bay Conservation Area, Eastern Arc Mountains Forests of Tanzania and the Central Slave and Ivory Trade Route.
So, we have reasons to be proud of WTD as stakeholders who are marketing tourist attractions in various ways, including using Tanzanian embassies in various parts of the world.
Given the number of tourist attractions we have and others which are yet to be unveiled, we are in a better position to command not only regional, but also world recognition.
The purpose of WTD is to raise public awareness on the role of tourism within the international community and to demonstrate how it affects social, cultural, political and economic values worldwide.
At local level, it means to market our sector of tourism and the tourist attractions we have to the world so that we continue attracting visitors to come to our country and see what we have and at the same time earn foreign currency and boost the economy. It will also attract investors in various sectors of the economy.
Although the coronavirus pandemic has claimed thousands of lives and devastated both developed and developing economies across the world, since June this year President John Magufuli assured visitors that Tanzania was safe from the coronavirus pandemic and that socioeconomic activities must resume and since then the country has been receiving tourists from various countries across the world and local, regional and international flights have resumed.
So, as we mark WTD, let us keep in mind that we have the duty to promote tourism and rural development. In this way, we will share with the world the natural heritage we have and cherish.