He has been in the crossfire, trying to harmonize public and private interests in tourism industry for six years consecutively.
Gifted with rare skills, the Tanzania Association of Tour Operators (TATO)’s CEO, Mr Sirili Miontini Akko, has managed to overcome all odds and successfully struck a balance, winning minds and hearts of both sides.
Gratified with his competency, the Tanzania state-run conservation and tourism agency, Tanzania National Parks as well as tour operators have unanimously honored Mr Akko with the pioneer prestigious Tourism Personnel of the year 2020 Award.
The award would be given annually to an expert who is non-tour operator whose drive, intelligence and creativity foster relations, among various tourism players, converging business and taxes compliance.
“This special recognition goes to TATO CEO, Mr Sirili Miontini Akko, as an appreciation of exceptional efforts in fostering relationships between tour operators and Tanzania National Parks” reads the award handed over to the recipient by the Natural Resources and Tourism, Dr Hamis Kigwangala recently.
In his acceptance speech, Mr Akko he said he dedicates the award to the unsung heroes and heroines who are at the forefront in developing the tourism industry in Tanzania.
“I’m humbled and I wish to dedicate this award to the unsung heroes and heroines who are at the forefront in developing the tourism industry and my subordinates who worked extremely hard behind the scene” he explained.
For the last six years, Mr Akko, an accomplished CEO with solid training in corporate management, has been at the helm of TATO, a leading lobby and advocacy agency for the multi-billion-dollar tourism industry in the natural-resource-rich country, Tanzania.
Mr Akko is the head of TATO’s executive arm, with 300 plus members from across the country and is virtually responsible for carving out and implementing advocacy strategies for the tourism industry from its members’ point of view.
He is, among other things, charged with spearheading negotiations with TATO, the government and other parties in the tourism industry.
A calm personality the bright young professional often puts on his face coupled with fine diplomatic qualities he holds have partly contributed to raise the profile of TATO and Tanzania’s tourism industry higher lately.
The country’s tourism earnings swelled to nearly $2.5 billion in 2019, up from $2.43 billion in 2018; while tourist arrivals totaled 1.49 million compared with 1.33 million a year before.
The success story in the tourism industry’s growth will never be complete without mentioning Mr Akko for his role as the TATO CEO.
Known for his intransigent stance in supporting wildlife conservation, the TATO CEO is also credited as a straightforward person, with high capacity of negotiations in almost all areas of life.
Zara Tanzania Adventurers Managing Director Ms Zainabu Ansell, one of a seasoned TATO member, says Mr Akko holds an incredible gift of mobilising people into solving problems, as he always insists on focusing on wide interests.
“I knew him six years in his capacity as TATO executive officer, I can say Mr Akko is extremely gifted in inventing options for mutual gains, by pointing out interests’ convergence,” Ms Zainabu explains, adding: “I don’t remember any failed dialogue under his watch.”
Since he rarely shares his personal experience with the public, not so much is known about the young CEO.
Having worked hard on his way up, available records testify that Mr Akko was not born on a silver plate; as he had, against all odds, to work right from the scratch.
Born and raised at Nangwa Village in Hanang District, Manyara Region, in northern Tanzania, Mr Akko comes from a typically humble African family.
During his early years, he had to rear goats and cows, the most common practice among boys raised in rural setups.
Mr Akko has significantly spent his early life on volunteering in different grassroots NGOs, including Longido Community Integrated Pragramme under the supervision of Dr Steven Kiruswa, the incumbent Member of Parliament for Longido Constituency.
It was during that time that he developed keen interest in rural development.
Upon completion of his high school education and with the influence of rural development programmes he served during holidays, Mr Akko joined the Institute of Accountancy Arusha for an undergraduate programme in pursuit of accountancy studies
And compelled by his rural development calling, he worked with an international NGO, World Vision Tanzania, for a few years before he joined TATO.
His first area of focus at TATO was to raise the profile of the organisation within the country and beyond, the role he is credited to have done well with energy and enthusiasm.
In July 1, 2019, Mr Akko was appointed as Goodwill Ambassador for Green Tourism Active (GTA) with his main focus on East Africa, flying the Tanzania’s flag high.
Green Tourism Active (GTA) is a Global sustainability assessment, certification and awards organisation, which is a Global Sustainable Tourism Council (GSTC) recognised.