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Tanzania 2015 | TOURISM | INTERVIEW

TBY talks to Devota Mdachi, Acting CEO of the Tanzania Tourist Board (TTB), on developments in the sector, improving infrastructure, and hope for the future of Tanzanian tourism.

Devota Mdachi
BIOGRAPHY
Devota Mdachi holds a degree in International Relations and French from the University of Dar es Salaam, in addition to a Master’s degree in Tourism from the Open University of Tanzania. Furthermore, she completed postgraduate studies at the International School of Tourism in Rome, Italy. Her career at TTB began in 1994 in the role of Tourist Information Officer at the branch office in Arusha. She moved to the center in Dar es Salaam in 1998, and was promoted to the position of Senior and then Principal Tourist Information Officer and Head of the center in Dar es Salaam. Since 2010, she has served as Principal Marketing Officer.

How do you assess the current position of the Tanzanian tourism sector, and what role can it play in future national development?

Tourism is today almost the number one sector of the economy, and still growing fast. We received around 590,000 visitors in 2002, but in 2012 we reached the 1 million mark, and in 2013 we registered 1,135,834 arrivals. We expect to have reached our next target of 2 million visitors within two to three years. Tourism cuts across all sectors, generating employment opportunities and improving living standards. In addition, of course, it is a source of foreign currency, and, hence, a major sector of the economy.

What is Tanzania doing to support diversification within the tourism sector?

Our traditional offering is wildlife, and when considering the word safari, Tanzania is considered to be one of the best destinations throughout the world. Recently the New York Times announced that Tanzania was the number one destination in Africa in terms of safaris. But we have much more to offer, and cultural tourism is just one of our other products. We are trying to tell people that they can naturally come to Tanzania for the first time to the Serengeti, Ngorongoro, and Zanzibar, but that there were many more destinations to consider. The south, for example, remains largely undiscovered. Even the wildlife is rich, diverse, abundant, and easily visible. And then you have culture and places of historical interest. Meanwhile, for people who enjoy trekking, Tanzania is not only about Mt. Kilimanjaro. We have numerous other mountains that offer amazing experiences. Those keen on fishing can take on the ocean, and also visit the three Great Lakes. Meanwhile, medical tourism has potential especially in terms of alternative traditional medicine, as part of our cultural tourism offering. We even have people visiting for volunteer tourism, similar to cultural tourism, but where visitors bring expertise to the local communities.

How is the Tourist Board working with the private sector to improve the infrastructure needed to connect these tourist destinations?

We are working closely with the private sector both within and beyond Tanzania. We are trying to encourage airlines to fly here. In this regard, Qatar Airways and Turkish Airlines have increased their flights as of 2013. That is a development that TTB and other stakeholders within the aviation industry worked together to realize. Whenever we attend international tourism exhibitions or any sort of platform where we meet airlines, we try to foster their greater participation in Tanzania by lobbying the government for incentives. Reports that we have received from Qatar Airlines and Turkish Airlines reveal that they do not regret their decisions. The number of passengers flying into Kilimanjaro and Dar es Salaam has increased tremendously. We expect other airlines, when they see this potential, to follow suit.

Over the next decade, where would you like to see the Tanzanian tourism sector?

I would like for it to become the number one sector in the economy by surpassing the target of 2 million visitors, and ultimately even reaching 5 million. I would also like to see Tanzania become the number one destination in Africa, and I think our offering has the weight to achieve this. We may need to improve on service delivery, but with the contribution of the National College of Tourism and other private sector initiatives we are confident of improvement on this front. And regarding infrastructure, the government is doing a sterling job making sure that virtually all of the major cities and towns are connected, while the same can be said for the aviation sector. With these improvements, I expect to see more tourists, both international and domestic.