After Israelis, Tanzania expects Chinese tourists

An uptick in diplomatic ties between Tanzania and Israel has started to bear socio-economic fruits, the Prime Minister Kassim Majaliwa said.

The premier who saw off 274 tourists on the Israeli Airlines plane at the Kilimanjaro International Airport (KIA) over the weekend, pleaded  with the visitors to serve as Tanzania`s ambassadors back home.

Over 1,000 tourists from Israel were since April 20, this year, in the northern tourism circuit to sample various attractions in Serengeti National Park and Ngorongoro Conservation Area.

The first group of the tourists left on Friday night, the second, which was seen off by the Premier, flew on Saturday afternoon, the third on Saturday evening and the last on Saturday night.

Majaliwa invited members of the business community from Israel to invest in the tourism sector in the natural-resource rich Tanzania. He further asked the Israelis to consider coming back to visit Rubondo, Katavi and Ruaha National Parks and Selous Game Reserve in the Southern Circuit as well as Zanzibar.

`We are flattered,` Majaliwa told Carmel  Shlomo, the Director of Another World, as he extended his gratitude to local and Israel tour operators for promoting Tanzania as number one tourist attraction in Africa.

Ten tour operating firms were involved in arranging the Israelis` safari to Serengeti and Ngorongoro Crater, namely Excellent Guides, Mauly Tours and Safaris, Matembezi, Leopard Tours and Safaris, African Queen Adventures and TAWISA from Tanzania and Another World, My Trip, Camel and Safari Company from Israel.

The Tanzania Tourist Board Director, Devotha Mdachi, said a similar group of tourists from Israel were scheduled to arrive in Tanzania by June 2019. `Also expected in May this year are over 300 tourists from China,` she said in an interview, adding that the board was arranging a trip of Israel journalists and tour operators to Tanzania later this year.

One of the Israeli tourists marveled at how the country is very good and its people excellent upon his arrival a week ago, but however observed that roads heading for Serengeti needed to be improved.

Dr. Hamis Kigwangalla, the Natural Resources and Tourism Minister said the government was reforming the tourism sector for it to offer quality services. Last year, the ministry unveiled its ambitious plan to invest over Tshs.300 billion ($130 million) in the untapped Southern circuit for the country to register 2.2 million tourist arrivals a year from the current 1.3 million.

Dr. Kigwangalla said the money would be spent on improving infrastructure, increasing tourist services and promoting the virgin destinations and its rich culture, cuisine and the people of Tanzania cemented renewal of its friendship with Israel when it opened its embassy in Ramat Gan in May 2018, over 20 years after ties between the two countries were re-established.

Tanzania had initially established diplomatic ties with Israel in 1963, but they were torn asunder in 1973, thanks to the intense Arab pressure.

Earnings from tourism, Tanzania`s main source of hard currency, jumped 7.13 per cent in 2018, as a result of increased arrivals of foreign visitors. Tourism revenues fetched Tshs5.5 trillion ($2.43 billion) during the period 2018, up from Tshs.5 trillion ($2.19 billion) in 2017. Tourist arrivals totaled 1.49 million in 2018, as opposed to 1.33 million in 2017.

Also read:Tanzania-China Direct Flights set to Boost Tourism

Israeli tourists hail Tanzania`s landscape

The serene rural Tanzanian landscape has wowed more than 1000 tourists from Israel who have just concluded their week-long tour of the country, leaving them planning for more future visits to explore the beauty of the country further.

The visitors from the Middle East have also expressed their admiration of the friendly attitude shown by the Tanzanians who they said were easy to make acquaintance with, noting that Israel stands a good chance of investing in cultural tourism.

The tour guide and leader of the group, Hagit Geffen stated they were surprised by the Tanzanians way of life as most of them seem to live in rural areas far away from towns and cities, and still the government manages to reach out to all these places, providing electricity, water and other essential services.

One of the tourists in the group observed that while back home in Israel people live in cities, towns or Kibbutz (a collective community in Israel that was traditionally based on agriculture) they are not as scattered as here. He also was surprised to see how people managed to get essential needs and basic services far away from cities and towns, yet he thought people must always live in big clusters in order to get services. He further stated that even the language in simple to master noting that in just a few days most of the tourists were able to learn Swahili words and could easily sing the song `Jambo Bwana, Habari Gani? ` citing that they were singing the song along their trips to Serengeti, Ngorongoro, Tarangire and Lake Manyara.

The tourists expressed their desire to return to Tanzania, but this time to really meet and understand the people of Tanzania whom they described to be warm, friendly, happy and peaceful.

A communications official for the Tanzania National Parks (TANAPA) described the arrival of more than 1000 tourists from the Middle East as a `typhoon` which has occurred during the off-season period in the northern circuit. The number of Israeli tourists visiting Tanzania rose to 36,640  in 2017, from 4,635 in 2012, according to data from the tourism board.

The Tourism Minister Dr. Hamis Kigwangalla said the marketing drive is paying dividends since the world is now turning to Tanzania as destination of choice when studying their global travel plans. In February this year, Tanzanian tourism experts attended the International Mediterranean Travel Market (IMTM) in Tel Aviv, Israel to promote the tourist attractions in the country.

The Zion tourists were seen off by the Prime Minister Kassim Majaliwa at the Kilimanjaro International Airport (KIA) over the weekend. The premier said their visit was among ongoing strategies to cultivate mutual cooperation between Jerusalem and Dar es Salaam.

The influx of Israel tourists to Tanzania comes after Israel opened its first visa processing centre in Dar es Salaam putting an end to necessitate people from Tanzania and Israel from traveling to Nairobi for visa related issues. The Tanzanian government also established an embassy in Israel in 2018 which was aimed at strengthening the ties that had been severed by the Arab pressure during the Yom Kippur war of 1973.

Also read: Germany, United Kingdom tourists dominate Tanzania tourism market