Discussion on covid-19 and how it has traumatised women industrialist in the tourism sector that featured on front page daily news (dated 15th July 2021) on special focus on women stuff incited my point of view on what Tanzania need to do to institute a doable long-term strategy to help enhance the tourism sector in Tanzania amidst covid-19 related paraphernalia.
While I applaud the decision taken recently by the government of Tanzania to suspend the land fees for up three months meant to give the tourism industry more time to recover from the impact of the covid-19 pandemic, in my view, the tourism industry; be it local or international is ostensible as one of the most, if not the most, vital bases of earnings local and foreign exchange and significantly one of government revenue sources through employment creation.
In recent times, Tanapa the state-run management and tourism agency, declared the rollout of several new fees, key among them land base rent tariffs aiming at seasonal camps, permanent tented camps and lodges sited in national parks to boost its revenue.
Much as from 1st July 2021, new land fees would rub about paying $2000 for seasonal camps, $20,000 per year for permanent tented camps and lodges to pay $50000 annually as land base rent fees, for investors, in my view incited an outcry as many actors in the sector tries to grapple with the revival of the sector.
The fact that the government has deferred such fees, in my view is a big plus to her excellence President Samia led the government, placed to restore and stimulate economic activities and to attract investment.
The sector through its supply chain produces land rents and revenues from green, service and departure taxes, all of which deliver much-needed fiscal space each government need to help provide public services to its people.
In countries like Tanzania, generally known to have the best tourist’s attractions, tax revenues from tourism activity make up a significant contribution of the government’s total tax intake.
But during the pandemic, it is unstated that the East African group’s six partners nations, Tanzania involved, are valued to have lost $4billion and 2.1 million jobs due to the covid-19 pandemic that ravaged the multibillion-dollar tourism industry in the region.
Analysis of world travel and tourism council data sources for 2020, conceals that in 2019, tourism jobs, both directly and indirectly associated with the industry, accounted for one in 10 jobs globally or about 330 million jobs worldwide.
This signals that for every tourism job created, nearly 1.5 additional jobs are connected indirectly to tourism.
Tourism in my view presents abundant backwards and forward linkages for many sectors, through for instance travel logistics, translators restaurants, cafés, laundry services, cultural centres and sports facilities accommodations etc. in addition to just visiting the national park for animals sight-seeing or beaches for marine leisure.
Furthermore, it also offers openings for the private enterprise through the participation of local tour guides and travel agencies and promotes domestic retail services. Strategically, these freely observable spills-over sound effects, tourism offers impetus for the agriculture sector, from which many farmers in this context from Tanzania benefit.
From an economic point of view, this arises from the demand for food and liquid refreshment comprising fresh organic vegetables, which inspires production and in the bigger picture fosters agricultural growth and innovation including providing a stable income for both large-scale and smallholder farmers.
Covid-19 is now into its 3rd wave in some parts of the world, new measures are emerging and in some places threat of this wave despite vaccine shots has enforced governments to again close borders, suspend flights and call most non-essential business undertakings to a standstill.
Out of these austere measures, the breakdown of IMF 2021 data sources shows that global GDP, at the time of writing this editorial, is expected to decline by -3.5%, with more millions of jobs to be lost in the process.
Provided this third perceived global round of containment measures is likely to deepen economic damage, particularly in the tourism sector, how Tanzania is aligning strategically to promote tourism sector investment more strategically amidst the third covid-19 wave.
Undeniably, in all tourist circles in Tanzania, particularly in the northern ring and isles of Zanzibar, many of the SMEs workforces in small tourism-dependent is labouring in tourism, which offers a vital source of income from both informal and formal enterprises.
Additionally, both governments of the mainland and especially the isles of Zanzibar hang on heavily on the sector, not only for foreign exchange but also for revenues generated through levies and tariffs on tourism-related income, through imports of tourism-related goods and ancillary services.
In my view lack of watchfulness on how to grapple with envisioned aftershocks could have a devastating outcome that could spread to banks that could have extended credits to industrialists servicing active in the sector.
Analysis on how directives and political statements are being issued gestures adequacy standard policy tools for instance fiscal and monetary policy ready enough to overcome the imagined decline in tourism, which in my look pleas for strategies aimed at stimulating tourism demand and restoring confidence-the realization of which Tanzania as a preferred destination has to prepare to deal with.
The way, in which our financial institutions managed by the bank of Tanzania as the regulator would act in response to provide critical liquidity, will in my view matter to completely stem the sector’s losses.
Up and until a decision is reached in Tanzania on which type of vaccine is relatively right for the Tanzanian population, somewhere else hopes to return to normality are now squarely sited on a covid-19 inoculation.
Much as its execution is on its way, is unlikely to seizure freedom at least in the short term as UNWTO categorically states that there will be a contraction in the tourism sector predicted to rebound to pre-covid-19 levels in 2.5 to 4 years.
At present, much uncertainty over inoculation uptake with wide-ranging efficiency means that tourism-dependent countries and particularly countries such as Tanzania where substantive investment has gone to the sector infrastructure for hotels and lodges to transport logistics exploring new and innovative means and financial packages to resuscitate the tourism industry need a 2nd financial eye since leisure industry presents abundant forward and backward linkages for many sectors in Tanzania.
What many don’t realise is that decrease demand for tourism services has led to business closures and job losses and in some businesses stripped away vital sources of income for numerous formal and informal workers dependent on the leisure industry. This comprises hotel employees, independent tour guides and sellers of arts and crafts etc.
Before retiring on views expressed in this editorial in a bid to rescue the drowning tourism sector, several initiatives aimed at invigorating the sector are worth revisiting. At the macro level, there is a need for a speedy line of action strategy to help execute conventional fiscal bailouts.
Essentially, lessons can be drawn from past crises such as the 9/11 attacks in the USA and the SARS and Ebola viruses, which had large impacts on the tourism sector.
Even though these disasters had not the same elements as the covid-19 disease, they in my view created a common occurrence of a diminished desire to travel, and countries had to come up with solutions to stimulate demand, much as Tanzania need to critically will do today.
It is imperative Tanzania be proactive rather than reactive, by ensuring contingency and disaster risk recovery plans and establishing risk management protocols about the tourism sector is in place.
Scaling-up of fiscal backing and bailout packages in my opinion would remain critical to support prevent further job losses incurred during the first wave of covid-19, mainly for SMEs.
Like in other nations, SMEs stomachs a large share of the costs connected with induced covid-19 as they make up a significant portion of the tourism sector.