TANZANIA (eTN) – In an unprecedented move likely to boost Tanzania’s tourism through its political agenda, a prominent and senior tourism executive from the private sector has been elected to join Tanzania’s parliamentary bandwagon.
The executive secretary of the Tanzania Association of Tour Operators (TATO) Mr. Mustapha Akunaay was elected a member of parliament (MP) to represent northern Tanzania’s Mbulu constituency under the ticket of the opposition CHADEMA party.
Mr. Akunaay, who has been a good friend of the media and well-informed personality in Tanzania and East Africa’s tourism industry, will join the opposition bench in Tanzania’s parliament with a new vigor to ensure that tourism is given priority in Tanzania economic planning.
“We expect Mr. Akunaay to voice his rich experience in tourism before the government, and we expect changes in this vital sector through more budgeting and investment,” said one travel agent.
Mr. Akunaay has served the tourist industry for more than 20 years and managed to link private tourist stakeholders and government authorities. TATO was established in 1983 to represent tour operators in Tanzania. The association is recognized by the government of Tanzania and diplomatic missions representing foreign nations in Tanzania.
TATO’s mission is to maintain high quality and standards among tour operators and help them to grow their businesses and represent issues and interests targeting Tanzania and East Africa tourism and travel trade.
With its headquarters in Tanzania’s northern tourist city of Arusha, TATO, under the execution of Mr. Akunaay, had planned and established the annual Karibu Travel and Tourism Fair (KTTF), which had become Africa’s second largest travel and tourism gathering.
Mr. Akunaay has been working to strengthen the annual Karibu exhibition to its present face, which had attracted hundreds of tourism exhibitors, travel trade sellers, and buyers across East Africa, Africa, Europe, and America.
Tourism is the number one industry in Tanzania, and the country is quickly emerging as a top tourist destination for travelers around the world with a wide range of outdoor, cultural, and wildlife activities.
TATO plays a key role in the development and growth of the tourism industry in Tanzania by providing its nearly 250 members with the latest information, advice, and tools needed to capitalize on the influx of tourists visiting the country.
“Tanzania’s natural tourism product is, in many ways, unparalleled in Africa. However, the tourist experience is not measured alone on the beach or wildlife product,” Mr. Akunaay said.
“It is the whole continuum that starts when the tourist first arrives in the country until the moment they leave. TATO is working across this tourist value chain to improve the experience for each and every tourist entering the country,” he added.
While key travel destinations in Tanzania include Serengeti, Mount Kilimanjaro, and Zanzibar, there are numerous national parks and a largely undeveloped coastline providing additional tourist sites across the country.
There are extensive, but largely unvisited, areas set aside as national parks, game reserves, and conservation areas. Many of the local people, villagers, and tribes rely heavily on tourists traveling through their regions.
So by helping tour companies across Tanzania grow their businesses, TATO is also making a significant impact on the economy at a country and local level, Mr. Akunaay said.
With new challenges ahead, it is anticipated that Mr. Akunaay will push the government of Tanzania to increase its tourism marketing and promotion budget, which for decades, remained meager, making it difficult for tourist marketing institutions to sell Tanzania’s rich tourist attractions in full swing.
Poor budgeting in tourism failed Tanzania in its campaigns to reach more and bigger markets outside traditional market sources with limited participation to leading global travel exhibitions, roadshows, and business trips in key markets.
Working closely and friendly with several media, Mr. Akunaay has been ever a good and daily reader of eTurboNews global travel updates, while offering his time as a source of tourism news and discussions.
Tourism stakeholders are happy to get an experienced tourist executive in Tanzania’s top policy and budget planning institution for the first time, with hopes that he will bring his rich experience before the government of Tanzania and wake it up to develop tourism.