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France Becomes Premier Inbound Travel Market to Tanzania

Amidst COVID-19

France Becomes Premier Inbound Travel Market to Tanzania

France has been ranked as the leading inbound travel market to Tanzania, since the latter re-opened its skies for travel amidst the world’s COVID-19 pandemic.

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Tanzania reopened its airspace for international passenger flights on June 1, 2020, after a 3-month stint of COVID-19, becoming the pioneer country in East Africa to welcome tourists to sample its endowed attractions.

Latest statistics from the state-run conservation and tourism agency show that France is leading in terms of number of tourist arrivals in Tanzania over the 3-month period covering July, August, and September 2020.

Tanzania National Parks (TANAPA) Assistant Conservation Commissioner in charge of the business portfolio, Ms. Beatrice Kessy, said that records indicate a total of 3,062 French tourists visited national parks in the period under review, raising the France flag high as the top international tourist market for Tanzania amidst the crisis and overtaking the USA with 2,327 holidaymakers.

The third in the list of key Tanzania tourist source markets is Germany with 1,317 visitors, followed by the UK with 1,051 tourists in fourth position. Spain, in fifth spot, has supplied Tanzania with 1,050 holidaymakers, trailed by India with 844 travelers who sampled the country’s bestowed natural beauties. Switzerland holds the seventh position with 727 tourists, trailed by Russia in eighth place with 669 visitors, the Netherlands with 431 travelers is in ninth slot, and tenth is Australia for having brought 367 vacationers during the period under consideration.

This implies that France has not only cast a vote of confidence to Tanzania’s approach of handling the COVID-19 pandemic, but also has become a true ally in helping the country to revive the tourism industry in a bid to spur other businesses, recover thousands of lost jobs, and spawn and pump revenue into the coffers.

“We are so grateful to French tourists for casting a vote of confidence to Tanzania as a safe destination. Their arrival plays a key role in spreading trust more widely, with benefits traveling far beyond tourism,” Ms, Kessy explained.

For many, France has become Tanzania’s best ally indeed because it supports the responsible and timely recovery of the tourism industry on which millions of small businesses and jobs depend.

The feat has not occurred by default, but rather, it was out of painstaking joint efforts spearheaded by the Tanzania Ambassador in France, Mr. Samwel Shelukindo.

“My office worked extra-time in close cooperation with the Mount Kilimanjaro Safari Club (MKSC) and Axium by Parker, as well as Tanzania Tourist Board (TTB). We have organized several meetings with tour operators and mainstream media to reassure them that Tanzania is a safe destination amidst the COVID-19 pandemic,” Mr. Shelukindo said in an exclusive interview.

The envoy said their initiatives were boosted by President Dr. John Pombe Magufuli’s stance of keeping the country lockdown-free and welcoming tourists.

Indeed, President Magufuli, like his counterpart in Sweden, has never issued a lockdown, thanks to the low cases count, and invited travelers to enter his country restriction-free.

“I can safely say this is a secret behind the feat. I’m proud of my President Magufuli as he made us work with confidence abroad. I’m also heavily indebted to MKSC, Axium by Parker, and TTB for their spirited campaigns to promote Tanzania as a safe destination,” he noted.  

Since Mr. Shelukindo assumed the office in Paris way back in 2017, French tourist arrivals in Tanzania have been surging tremendously.

Official data shows that in 2016, France supplied a total of 24,611 tourists, and in 2017, the number hit 33,925 travelers, while in 2018, there were 41,330 visitors, and in 2019, the arrivals reached 56,297 holidaymakers.

MKSC founder, Denis Lebouteux, said in most cases, French tourists have been flocking into Tanzania in the low season when the country’s national parks and hotels are really hungry to fill empty rooms.

“So, this is a uniqueness of French tourists,” Mr. Lebouteux said, adding that they visit when Tanzania needs them most.

Enthralled by the country’s peace and love, its endowed wildlife, beaches and culture, French tourists are slowly but surely becoming the cornerstone of Tanzania’s tourism industry.

With nearly 1.5 million tourist arrivals annually, wildlife tourism continues growing and cementing its position as the leading foreign currency earner in Tanzania, fetching the country $2.5 billion, equivalent to nearly 17.6 percent of its GDP.

In addition, tourism provides 600,000 direct jobs to Tanzanians, let alone over one million other citizens who generate incomes from the industry.