People often wonder how tourism could possibly benefit the common man in a third world country for example where the proceeds are more than likely to go to the government and it spends as it sees fit. How could a bunch of foreigners visiting national parks, and mountains, and doing water sports at a place near a poor uneducated man’s home supposed to help, especially since they are not paying him to do all these things. The tourists is also wondering how they could possibly be helping the locals by paying for African safari tickets, or park entry fees.
The summarized question is how can countries maximize the impact of tourism to achieve sustained growth and development? The kind that is beneficial to even the locals who might not necessarily be involved in the industry.
The answer for Tanzania lies in the development of a full tourism value chain.
According to the World Bank latest sixth Tanzania Economic Update edition entitled ‘The Elephant in the Room, Unlocking the potential of the tourism industry for Tanzanians,’ tourism can enhance multiple-linked activities through its interactions with the transportation, agricultural and traditional handicrafts sectors, significantly benefiting a large range of local businesses.
It further states that a well-developed tourism industry has some subtle benefits. By raising the global profile of a country, it can generate an increased awareness of that country’s natural, human and other assets, which could play a role in attracting foreign investors.
In order to derive maximum benefits from tourism, Tanzanian policy-makers should focus on complementary issues such as diversification; intensification and improvements to governance.
Diversification is perhaps more necessary in today’s tourism industry than ever before.
So far, in the development of Tanzania’s tourism industry, the emphasis has been on expansion through the development of new destinations. As stated earlier, most tourism activities are concentrated in two areas, with many other potentially attractive areas currently underdeveloped. In this context, the development of new destinations makes sense. This however comes with some substantial cost implications and some potentially negative impacts with regards to strategy. If say the strategy is public-private partnerships to achieve growth and development competing interests with such partnerships need to be managed if other sector partnerships are promoted.
An example of a PPP which created an extremely positive impact involved a seemingly simple road infrastructure development project, involving a provincial government and a private hotelier in South Africa.
Partnerships of that kind can be promoted through the establishment of linkages with large investments in other sectors, such as mining or agriculture, through the development of joint infrastructure that can also support tourism activities.
Diversification for tourism in Tanzania also requires development of tourist attractions beyond the nature-based attractions that the country has been blessed with. There are of course benefits to maintaining exclusivity in the management of natural resources serves to maintain revenue levels while controlling negative environmental impact.
Another thing Tanzania could do is develop cultural tourism through promotion of specific cultural tourist attractions such as the ruins of Kilwa. History and cultures can be very popular with tourists.
Developing business facilities such as hotels is also important. Such facilities generate direct revenue, and will grow the MICE tourism focus as well. Business tourism facilities will definitely make Tanzania a more attractive place for foreign investors. Kenya is a success story when it comes to development of tourism business facilities and its benefits. It now ranks only second behind South Africa as a venue for business meetings in a market worth approximately USD 24 million.
Combining various safari packages to make them more attractive is another approach to increase tourism demand and revenue. While this is already happening along a few circuits, in Arusha, some new safari circuits might be required. Circuits in Dar es Salaam linking the cit to national parks such as Selous, or beaches such as mafia island would definitely be brilliant. Linking the city to cultural sites such as Bagamoyo and Zanzibar will also be a good idea. These attractions are quite amazing but are mostly known to the locals, circuits that link them to the capital and some developments will bring them to the attention of tourists as well.
Integration ad intensification: this is about generating a higher level of benefit from tourism activities in existing locations. If done well, this could produce a relevant value chain.
It involves the development of a higher level of integration between the tourism industry and other local businesses. If well managed, tourism provides multiple opportunities for economic development and employment growth through the establishment of linkages within and between sectors. For example, tourism revenues are released into the local economy when hotels or lodge operators buy goods and services from local suppliers.
This impacts the agricultural and fisheries sectors, enabling them to serve as suppliers to the tourism industry. It also breeds an entrepreneurial market for goods such as traditional handicrafts. In addition, hotels use a portion of their revenues to pay wages to workers, who may come from local communities.
Tourism industry workers, particularly if they come from local communities, will spend their wages to the benefit of the surrounding community. In many countries, local suppliers provide basic building materials to the tourism industry, spurring growth in construction services and light manufacturing. For example rather than hotels importing some of their furniture, they could use local suppliers.
The challenge is to build the capacities of local communities so that their members are able to provide goods and services to different segments of the market, particularly the high-end segment that currently comprises the bulk of tourism in Tanzania.
What Tanzania needs to effectively implement integration in tourism is development of skills, and also to build better linkages between buyers and suppliers. This means vocational training programs need to be well developed and standardized to ensure better matches between the skills developed by these institutions and those demanded by industry.
Cooperation between tourism operators and local communities can also create direct and functional economic linkages. While the ability of tourism sector operators to support the establishment of linkages with local business enterprises depends on the size and capacity of the domestic economy, it is important to take advantage of backward linkages that tourism typically has with sectors such as agriculture, construction and light manufacturing.
By implementing some or all of these strategies benefits of tourism might slowly begin to show even in the minority groups of people. This framework could apply to any East African country.