TANZANIA’S tourism industry continues to bounce back impressively as hundreds of Spaniards are expected to jet into the country later this month.
Spanish tour agents from 16 companies have been in the country since August 3, this year to see and get assured if the country is safe from Covid-19 and see if they can coordinate visits for tourists from their home country.
The agents visited several tourist destinations, including Serengeti National Park, Ngorongoro Conservation Area Authority (NCAA), Lake Manyara National Park and Hadzabe communities and were satisfied that the country is safe and are due to bring more than 200 tourists this month.
Speaking in Arusha on Monday evening, the agents said they were impressed by what they witnessed in the country, some of them being their first time to visit the largest nation in East Africa, adding that they would be good ambassadors and had already made bookings.
He said some agents would be leaving but few will remain in the country ready to receive tourists in a new season that was launched in June this year, having developed national Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) to prevent spread of Covid-19 in the tourism related activities in the country.
The impending arrival of the Spanish tourists is yet another proof that Tanzania’s tourism sector continues to expand its tentacles in Europe.
Tanzania Tourist Board (TTB) Chairman, Justice Thomas Mihayo, said the agents were let to get around the country freely to find for themselves the situation and were happy that the country was ready and open to receive tourists.
“I came to Arusha specifically to meet the tour and travel agents from Spain who came to see if the country is ready and can receive tourists. Here they are ... already have toured the country, they have been to Serengeti National Park, Ngorongoro Crater, Lake Manyara and in other communities such as the Hadzabe and at Mto wa Mbu and are satisfied that Tanzania is safe,” said the retired judge.
He revealed that Spain was not among countries that have been bringing in many tourists, but has emerged as one of the most promising in the sub-sector with agents promising that more than 200 tourists will be jetting in the country this month.
TTB is working with Tanzania embassies out there, local and foreign agents as well as the Ministry of Natural Resources and Tourism and Tanzania National Parks (TANAPA) to see that the subsector that contributes about 17 per cent of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) picks up after a setback during the Covid-19 pandemic.
Justice Mihayo pointed out that one of the agents in Spain has offered TTB an office for free where TTB officials could stay and offer services to attract more tourists from the European country and beyond.
“It is so encouraging to have Spain on board as the tourism season gets going, they have offered us an office over there where our staff can work from. We are telling Spain and the rest of the world that Tanzania is safe, open and ready to receive tourists in huge numbers and we are going to make it from this month. “They (agents) have witnessed the situation, they came safe and are leaving safe, with few remaining behind to receive the tourists this month,” said Justice Mihayo.
Speaking on behalf of the agents, Ms Liber Garcia from Bilbao said they were thrilled by the country, tourism attractions as well as hospitality displayed by Tanzanians, saying it is a wonderful country and will be bringing many tourists from this month on.
“We are certain that Tanzania is safe, no fear for Covid- 19 or any other disease so we are now happy to bring in tourists after our tour of more than one week. We thank TTB for hosting us and staying with us all along,” said the director of Club Marco Polo Viajes.
The Spaniards were accompanied by officials from the famous National Geographic Society, headquartered in Washington, D.C., United States.
The agents came from across Spain, from such cities as Barcelona, Madrid, Bilbao, Valencia and Sevilla. Tourism business operations continue in the country while making sure that the health of Tanzanians and visitors is a priority.