Tour operators in Tanzania have unveiled a pioneer private, state-of-the-art, waiting lounge at Kilimanjaro International Airport (KIA) as they seek to offer holidaymakers a hassle-free welcome after a stint of COVID-19.
Tanzanian authorities have reopened its skies for international passenger flights from June 1, 2020, becoming the first country in the East African community to welcome tourists to sample its endowed attractions.
Isack Kamwelwe, the Minister for Works, Transport and Communications, said in a statement that business, humanitarian, diplomatic, emergency and other special flights were allowed to land, take off and fly across the country’s skies as it was before.
He said the opening of the skies followed an announcement by President John Magufuli that the number of COVID-19 infections has been dropping citing statistics from health centers treating COVID-19 patients across the country.
The waiting Lounge, a brainchild of Tanzania Association of Tour Operators (TATO), will offer the tourists, tour guides and drivers a comfort zone and keep distance in the advent of COVID-19 pandemic.
TATO Trustee Mr Merwyn Nunes said that the free-of-charge lounge the first of its kind offers, for tourists and tour guides comforts beyond those afforded in the airport terminal itself, such as more comfortable seating, quite environments and often better access to customer service representatives.
Other services may include private meetings, telephones and wireless Internet access and other amenities, along with provisions to enhance passenger comfort, such as drinks, snacks and magazines.
“This is the pioneer private waiting lounge where our dearest tourists and our tour guide drivers will be comfortably meet before they start the journey to various national parks” said TATO CEO, Mr Sirili Akko during the launching by the Minister of Natural Resources and Tourism, Dr Hamis Kigwangallah.
The lounge costing a staggering $50,000, was made possible through Public-Private-Partnership (PPPs) championed by TATO. The association itself bankrolled half of the amount, with the remainder being footed by Tanzania National Parks and Ngorongoro Conservation Area Authority (NCAA).
“I’m happy that this lounge is a true manifestation of PPPs in action. It will also save as KIA’s business centre” he said.
Launching the lounge, the Tourism Minister, Dr Kigwangala commended the initiative, arguing that TATO has been an outstanding association and a role model for driving true public-private-partnership through action.
He directed the Airport authorities to maintain and keep the ultra-modern lounge working.
Dr Kigwangalla was in company of deputy Minister of health Dr. Godwin Mollel who was impressed by the open-air style building for public at this time where the World is grappling with COVID-19 pandemic.
TATO, the 37-year-old umbrella organization with over 300 plus-members, becomes an efficient advocacy agency for a multi-billion dollar industry, with its base in northern safari capital of Arusha.
The association also provides unparalleled networking opportunities for its members, allowing individuals tour operators or company to connect with their peers, mentors, and other industry leaders and policymakers.