Although reservations at Onsea House in Arusha seem to increase because of the crisis in Kenya, the Guardian reports today that Tanzania`s tourism industry has sustained serious injuries following the post-election stand-off in Kenya and the violence accompanying it:
The industry has been hit by trip and hotel accommodations cancellations of alarming proportions, with Tanzania Association of Tour Operators (TATO) chairman Mustafa Akuunay putting the number of planned daily visits scrapped to between 25 and 30 per cent. Explained a distraught Akuunay when interviewed by The Guardian here yesterday: “Tanzania has been forgoing a minimum of $84,000 (equivalent to 94.08m/-) in foreign exchange earnings every passing day in lost business on parks, transportation and accommodation services since hell broke loose in Kenya two weeks ago.“
According to the TATO chairman of tour and hotel operators, the number of visitors coming to Tanzania has fallen considerably because most would normally cross over from Kenya.
The most hit of the key hotel operators in Tanzania`s northern tourism circuit are Serena Group of Hotels and Sopa Lodges, which can accommodate a combined 1,120 tourists at a go. They report losing 170 guests daily on average.
Serena Group general manager Salim Jan Mohamed, who put booking cancellations from his hotels and lodges alone at 75 everyday, said in a telephone interview: “The situation is alarming.
With a capacity of accommodating 500 tourists at a go, now the booking cancellations are robbing us of 15 to 20 per cent of that number everyday.“
Sopa Lodges group reservation manager Louis Okech had a similar story, noting: “We have been getting anything between 10 and 15 per cent cancellations out of our full installed capacity of 620 tourists everyday.“ He added that they have been suffering a loss of 93 tourists on average on each passing day.
Bushbuck Safaris Ltd managing director Mustafa Panju added to the sad tales, saying the number of tourists from abroad had dropped appreciably, “as enquiries now lie at five per cent at the highest as opposed to between 30 and 40 per cent before the problems up north (in Kenya)“.
A visibly shaken Matongo Adventure Tours managing director Nashon Nkhambi said the Kenyan crisis had cost his company three large groups of tourists.
His Sunny Safaris Limited counterpart Firoz Suleiman, meanwhile, estimated that six to eight groups of minimum 16 tourists had cancelled their trips to Tanzania soon after learning of the violence in Kenya.
An estimated 40 per cent of the 700,000-odd tourists usually visiting Tanzania annually pass through Kenya, thereafter crossing over for tours of attractions such as Ngorongoro Crater, Serengeti National Park and Mount Kilimanjaro.
The figure stood at the much higher 66 per cent in the 1990s but has gradually fallen over the years thanks to the introduction of direct flights from Europe, the Americas and other regions to Tanzania, especially via the revamped Julius Nyerere (Dar es Salaam) and Kilimanjaro international airports.
Tourism is one of the key drivers of Tanzania`s economy, second only to agriculture, and had a 17.2 per cent contribution to the country`s gross national product last year.