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Tanzania Banking on Results from its 1st Tourism Investment Forum
by Jerry W. Bird


The Tanzania Tourism Investment Forum, hosted by the Honorable Zakia Hamdani Meghji, MP, Tanzania's Minister of Natural Resources and Tourism, was held at the Arusha International Conference Center, October 22-24, 2002. The public and private sector endorsement of the forum was evidenced by the participation of a cross-section of government ministers and senior representatives, including ministries of agriculture, land , public works and utilities; Tanzania Investment Corporation and The Tanzania Association of Tour Operators. This was indicative of the Tanzanian government's recognition of the major role that tourism development plays in job creation and improving the country's economy. (see Investment Buzz)


 "We have a unique tourism product mix. We must keep it unique by sustaining it. A correct balance has to be established between exploitation and conservation; and between economic interests and the social, environmental and cultural impact of human activity in tourism. " President Benjamin William Mkapa, The United Republic of Tanzania

Investors at Tanzania Tourism Investment Forum 2002 learn that Opportunities abound in Africa's newest "hot-spot" for travelers looking for adventure, wildlife, culture, diving and even luxury. Tanzania Tourism Investment Forum 2002, Africa's First -Ever, Organized by the Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency, resonates success. Looking at the Big Picture, Arusha Tourism Conference could be a "Blueprint" for Africa's Future.

In a ground-breaking speech, addressing the first-ever tourism investment forum in Africa organized by the the Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency (MIGA), a World Bank Group, Tanzania's President Benjamin William Mkapa, (photo above left) opened the doors to foreign investment in tourism. The fact that the closing address two days later was given by Zanzibar President Amani Abeid Karume made it clear that Zanzibar is also welcoming foreign investors into their growing tourism industry.

The Investment forum in Arusha, at Mount Kilimanjaro's doorstep, attracted more than 280 local and foreign investors from the United States, Europe, Middle and Far East and Africa, who attributed the success of the forum to a new environment of opportunity for tourism investment in Tanzania, as key policy reforms coincide with increased international tourist traffic for high end destinations.

Sandeep Khapre, Director, Marketing and Business Development, DCDM Consulting representing investor clients, in a BBC World Service radio interview about the Investment Forum, reinforced the investors' optimism about the growth of Tanzania tourism, "Tanzania is attractive to investors because it has great long term branding - the Serengeti, Ngorongoro Crater, Mt. Kilimanjaro and the Selous - and there is confidence in the government's stability and long-term commitment to wildlife conservation." Khapre also noted that the investment policies are "getting better by the day."

There was particular interest in a variety of tourism ventures from the Southern Circuit of Selous National Park and Ruaha Game Reserve to Matwara and other newly introduced tourism products (adventure tourism, birding, diving and sports fishing). The few remaining hotels in public hands are also up for privatization. Recent tourism-related foreign investments include the Holiday Inn and Golden Tulip Hotels, both in Dar es Salaam; a new lodge in Ruaha; Serena Mountain Village Expansion in Arusha; major roads, Arusha to Ngorongoro and Dar es Salaam to Bagamoyo; the Rufiji River Bridge; and the Kilimanjaro and Mbeya airports. Foreign investors at the event represented Midrock, Legacy Hotels, Holiday Inn, Southern Sun, Serena Lodges and Hotels and Golden Tulip. Local Tanzanian investors included Coastal Aviation, Precision Air, Ranger Safaris, Leopard Tours, and Peacock Hotel, all of whom are expanding their operations inside the country.

A Model for Tomorrow's Tourism. Will Tourism Drive Tanzania's Economic Engine?

Most delegates to the Investment Forum agreed when asked that "Responsible and Community-Based Tourism" is definitely an engine to drive today's economy in Tanzania and other African countries that are fortunate enough to follow its lead. What better, more practical, eco-friendly and safety- minded route is there for job creation and the possibility of poverty alleviation? The Hon. Zakia Hamdani Meghji, Tanzania's Minister for Natural Resources and Tourism made that goal a main theme, "Tourism is a major economic sector in Tanzania. It is also a sector that is destined to grow and expand further. At a conservative annual growth rate of 7 percent over the next decade we would be able to reach the one-million visitors target set for the year 2010." She further stated that Tanzania has a master plan for tourism that was completed with the assistance of the European Union. And now "in order to achieve the target of visitors the

industry needs proper planning and an articulate Program of Action which would detail all sets of implementation schedules…above all it needs a well-coordinated approach on promotion and marketing in our traditional markets and also finding new markets." 

Iain Christie, MIGA Project Manager, praised the Ministry's effort, "What the Tanzania Tourism Investment Forum does prove is that given the right conditions and meeting firm fiscal disciplines, remarkable results are possible." He feels that at the base of Tanzania's success is the right attitude --- a burning desire to change the status quo.

What ís the Prime Ingredient? The Tanzanian People.

President Benjamin William Mkapa paid tribute to the real force behind this moment of change - the people of Tanzania and Zanzibar. "One of our strongest points is our hospitality. I cannot speak for every Tanzanian, but it is generally acknowledged that our people are kindhearted; that they reach out warmly to guests, and are friendly, respectful and of generous spirit. In short, in a world that is so much in a rush, our people have not rushed to shed their firm belief in, and staunch commitment to, a dignified universal common humanity."This, together with a sound program of capacity building, should ensure a cadre of professionally trained staff.

Increased Air Access a Factor

A positive sign and true measure of Tanzania's success in building a solid tourism base is the vast improvement in air access to and within Tanzania, such as KLM's daily service to both Kilimanjaro International Airport (newly privatized) and Dar es Salaam; British Airlines new direct service to Dar es Salaam, Ethiopian Airlines with direct access from North America's Dulles Airport in Washington DC and Newark International Airport, and South African Airlines from Atlanta and New York's John F. Kennedy International Airport. Such expansion of service from the airlines demonstrates that they are confident in the country's future. Tanzania is also well served by local carriers, such as Coastal Aviation and Precision Air.

His Exellency Mkapa's Four Pillars of the New Tourism Scene

While President Benjamin William Mkapa agreed that for years, his country was under-aggressive in promoting tourism, things have turned 180 degrees in recent years. He emphasized that Tanzania now offers a wide range of multi-destination and multi-activity holidays thanks to careful planning, budgeting and inventory development. He laid out his four pillars of success as follows: (1) Tanzania has a unique product that needs to be showcased and recognized more than ever before. (2) The timing for doing so is right, and it is now. (3) Tanzania's government and its leader have a deep commitment to dialogue. (4) These forums provide an excellent opportunity for such dialogue. Today's potential for mutually rewarding investments and cooperation in the tourism sector is greater than ever before.

Speaking of the new Tourism Confederation of Tanzania, President Mkapa emphasized its obligation to encourage, facilitate and empower local investors in the tourism industry, not just in major hotels and lodges, but also in a whole variety of services. "We should encourage and facilitate domestic tourism among Tanzanians. This will help to expand local value-added to the tourism sector, and make the many linkages to the rest of the economy provided by tourism a potent weapon in our war on poverty," the President added.

New Bonds of Trust in Public and Private Sector

The President emphasized how opportune the Tanzania Tourism Investment Forum was in its timing, "The economic reforms that we have been carrying out over the last seven years have been both resolute and consistent. Today, when we say we are ready to work with the private sector in promoting and engendering growth and development, everyone takes us seriously. We can be trusted. And we have behind us a solid track record to prove it."

"We have gone out of our way," said President Mkapa, "to create a conducive climate for investment and trade. The macro-economic fundamentals have been in place for several years now, to the commendation of International Financial Institutions and our bilateral development partners. The economic policy reforms we have undertaken have confirmed Tanzania as a market economy, with ample incentives to attract, retain and reward investments and entrepreneurship. And, all this takes place in a democratic peaceful, united and stable country." Getting closer to home, he is pleased that investments in upgrading tourism-related infrastructure have begun to bear fruits, saying. "It is true much remains to be done, and part of our challenge at this forum is to attract investments in such infrastructure. But compared to where we came from, and with the imminent privatization of our national airline, we think we are beginning to effectively address the infrastructure problems that obstructed the faster growth of tourism in the past."

Forum a Who's Who of Business, Industry and Government

Among the international notables present were Dr. Ken Kwaku, Program Manager for MIGA Africa and Mr. Dawid de Villiers, Deputy Secretary-General of the World Tourism Organization (WTO). A quick look at the roster was like reading a corporate and public who's who - the International Finance Corporation, the European Union, the Japanese and Swiss Governments, Netherlands Development Organization, the World Bank, Development Bank of Southern Africa, Southern African Development Community, the African Union, and its NEPAD economic program, Tanzania Private Sector Foundation, Economic and Social Research Foundation, National Social Security Fund, National Development Corporation, Tanzania National Parks, Marine Parks and Reserves, the Africa Travel Association and the newly formed Tourism Confederation of Tanzania.

The Forum…Just the Beginning 

Hon. Meghji in her closing remarks made it clear that this forum "is not the end of our process to encourage investment in tourism in Tanzania. Instead, it is only the beginning." Four other cabinet ministers representing key portfolios, plus officials from the Zanzibar Ministry of Tourism joined Hon. Minister Meghji. At a festive dinner sponsored by the Southern Africa Development Bank. The Minister was enthusiastically applauded when she said "I, personally, promise you that my ministry, and the other ministries, are committed to following up on all the issues raised at this forum by the private sector." The Tanzania private sector, in recognition of Minister Meghji's outstanding leadership in bringing Tanzania tourism so far since her appointment in 1997, gave her the honorary title of "Mama Utalii" (Mother Tourism).

Investment Web Site Launched

Mr. Saleh Pamba, Director of Tourism in the Ministry for Natural Resources and Tourism, and conference coordinator, said that a special web site was specifically created for the Investment Forum, http://www.investintanzania.com, which will provide an ongoing menu of Tanzania Tourism projects. "This web site will also serve as a substantial in-depth view and tool for major privatization projects as well as for smaller-scale projects designed by local Tanzanians. This way potential investors can identify projects of interest to them and follow through quickly and conveniently." Pamba was optimistic that the high profile event attracted international attention for tourism investment opportunities in Tanzania. He also noted that there were several large and prominent investors unable to attend the Forum who had expressed interest in the privatization options in Tanzania. In addition to the menu of investment opportunities on the web site, MIGA noted that the next steps included maintaining investors lists and disseminating information on new tourism investment opportunities, investigating potential financial sources for tourism and taxation and a targeted investment promotion program by the Tanzania Investment Corporation and the Ministry of Natural Resources and Tourism.   


The Tanzania Tourism Investment Forum was hosted by the Ministry of Natural Resources and Tourism, under the auspices of the Hon. Zakia Hamdani Meghji, MP; Mr. Solomon Odunga, Permanent Secretary; Mr. Saleh Pamba, Director of Tourism and Conference Coordinator; Mr. Peter Mwenguo, Managing Director, Tanzania Tourist Board. The forum was organized by MIGA, Dr. Ken Kwaku, MIGA Africa; David Bridgman, Program Director, Iain Christie, task team leader; Shantal Persuad, Conference Coordinator.


The United Republic of Tanzania, with a population 35 million, is East Africa's largest country and lies just south of the Equator on the Indian Ocean Coast. Until recently, known as the Land of Kilimanjaro and Zanzibar, the Tanzania Tourist Board is launching a new "tag line"- Tanzania - the Authentic Africa. Arusha, where the forum was held, is also known as the Capital of the Tourism Industry, being close to Mt. Kilimanjaro, and headquarters for safaris into the Serengeti, Ngorongoro Crater and other sites on the Northern Circuit. An upgraded Kilimanjaro International Airport serves the area. However, with the new Master Plan, the investment push is to develop the less crowded Southern Circuit, which includes the Selous, the second largest game reserve in Africa and one of six UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Tanzania. The others are Mt. Kilimanjaro, Ngorongoro Crater, Serengeti National Park, Zanzibar's Stone Town and Kilwa Kisiwani/Songo Mnara ruins in Lindi region. Bagamoyo, former center of the slave route is also being proposed for a World Heritage listing.