Tanzanian ambassador to Rwanda Ernest Mangu is engaging tour operators from both countries to create synergies, in his latest efforts to pursue economic diplomacy.
The scope of economic diplomacy can encompass the all of the main international economic activities of a state including, but not limited to, policy decisions designed to influence exports, imports, investments, lending, aid, free trade agreements.
Rwanda with few tourist attractions, compared to Tanzania, is touted as the top destination in the region for conference tourism, targeting $74 million this year, up from $52 million earned a year back.
“As an envoy with an economic diplomacy policy in my mind and heart, I saw this as a great opportunity. I’m talking with the tour operators from both sides to exchange tourists for mutual benefits,” said Ambassador Mangu.
The diplomat, who is the former Inspector General of Police (IGP), said that it is easier to convince delegates attending a conference in Kigali to visit Tanzania’s flagship national parks like Serengeti, Mount Kilimanjaro and Ngorongoro Crater than from Europe or America.
Indeed, Tanzania tour operators and Rwanda recently agreed to jointly market the two countries as complementary destinations with an eye to offering the tourist’s conference package with an adventure in sprawling national parks.
The Tanzania Association of Tour Operators (TATO) and Rwanda Tours and Travel Association (RTTA) sealed the deal on behalf of the tour operators from both countries after familiarization trips to visit each nation’s endowed tourist allures.
“The key objective of TATO and RTTA strategic partnership is to increase the length of stay of tourists visiting the two countries as we have the comparative advantage of the complementarity of tourist products”, TATO CEO, Sirili Akko.
Recently, Tour operators from both countries engaged in a Business-to-Business (B2B) networking event in Kigali, Rwanda, where they deliberated the opportunities, after Tanzania tour operators had visited various tourist sites.
TATO members who were led by its Vice-Chairman, Henry Kimambo, visited Volcano National Park with mountain gorillas, did kayaking and boat riding on Lake Kivu and canopy walkway in the Nyungwe Forest, among other tourism spots visited, as part of their mission to explore tourist products in Rwanda.
“We are hopeful, it will be a fruitful partnership. Tourism is a new frontier to move the African continent out of poverty because it is a key employer and a sector with a very long value chain. East African countries, particularly Tanzania and Rwanda, have a very key synergy because we do not have the same products which mean there is complementarity of the products,” Sirili underlined.
The Vice-chairperson of Rwanda Tours and Travel Association (RTTA), Gina Chetan Karsan said that the partnership has become a reality since both tour operators have been able to visit either side as a way of familiarization of both countries and the tourism products.
“I have no doubt that Tanzania and Rwanda will witness positive results in the near future, thanks to the partnership aims at boosting tourism businesses between the two countries,” Karsan said at the end of their fam trip in Tanzania recently.
Tanzania’s earnings from tourism jumped 7.13 per cent in 2018, helped by an increase in arrivals from foreign visitors, the government has said.
Tourism is the main source of hard currency in Tanzania, best known for its beaches, wildlife safaris and Mount Kilimanjaro.
Revenues from tourism fetched $2.43 billion for the year, up from $2.19 billion in 2017, Prime Minister, Kassim Majaliwa said in a presentation to parliament.
Tourist arrivals totalled 1.49 million in 2018, compared with 1.33 million a year ago, Majaliwa said.
President John Magufuli’s government said it wants to bring in 2 million visitors a year by 2020.