TOURISTS FLOCK IN AS VIRUS FEAR WANES

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AfricaPress-Tanzania: TOURISTS are arriving in droves in Tanzania as the country proves to be the safest destination from the coronavirus pandemic that has ravaged world economies and hit travel particularly hard.

Tanzania has managed to restore travellers’ confidence as no signs of new coronavirus infections have been reported lately.

Last June, President John Magufuli declared victory over the virus, as other countries are reeling under Covid-19 cases.

The president repeatedly said that the health crisis had been exaggerated and urged people to attend services in churches and mosques, saying that prayers can drive out the virus.

In May, he questioned the efficacy of testing kits after they returned positive results on samples secretly taken from a goat and a pawpaw.

The government closed schools in March and banned mass gatherings at weddings and funerals but did not impose a lockdown. The schools were re-opened in June.

Bars, restaurants and entertainment centres remained open and large gatherings such as sports events and religious assemblies were allowed to continue.

Tanzania also decided to keep its skies, land and water borders open with no formal restriction on internal movement between regions.

President Magufuli justified the decision as the need for a lifeline for landlocked countries in the region. International passenger flights continued as neighbouring countries suspended theirs before reopening much later.

The decision paid off handsomely, with tourists arriving in big number much to a relief of the tourist sector that had already suffered from the global pandemic.

International airlines including KLM Royal Dutch Airlines, Swiss Air and Emirates, Ethiopian Airlines, Qatar Airways, Turkish Airlines which halted flights in mid-March, are now flying to and from Tanzania.

Others are Rwanda Air, Emirates Airlines, Fly Dubai, Oman Air and Kenya Airways.

Authorities said on Monday that the number of foreign tourists visiting the country has started to rise after it re-opened its skies for international flights on May 18 in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Minister for Natural Resources and Tourism Mr Hamisi Kigwangalla said statistics registered from June showed that the number of foreign tourists had increased compared with April and May.

He said in Dar es Salaam recently that in July the Ngorongoro Conservation Area received 1,972 tourists compared with 202 tourists received in April.

Tanzania National Parks Authority (TANAPA) received a total of 3,666 tourists in July compared with 5 17 tourists received in April.

“Tanzania welcomes all visitors while observing our guidelines to prevent the spread of Covid-19,” said the minister.

Tourism is one of the cornerstones of Tanzania’s economy, contributing about 17.2 per cent to the country’s gross domestic product and 25 per cent of all foreign exchange revenues.

The sector, which provides direct employment for more than 600 ,0 0 0 people, generated approximately 2.6 billion US dollars in 2019 from 1,527,230 visitors, government statistics show.

As one of Africa’s favorite tourist destinations, Tanzania is known for its breathtaking attractions, including stunning landscapes dotted with wildlife and a rich cultural heritage.

The government is determined to transform the tourism sector and boost its contribution to the economy.

It eyes to increase the number of tourists to five million that will generate about 6.0 billion US dollars annually up from 2.6 billion US dollars generated in 20 19.

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