Tuesday, March 13, 2007

It is all coming together

I get the sense that things are finally coming together for many African countries. This ‘coming together’ is the result of incremental changes across the spectrum. Two news items in the past week show an aspect of this.

One is the news about the new road to be built from Arusha north into Kenya (my blog yesterday). The other news item is that Prof Maghembe, Tanzania’s Minister for Natural Resources and Tourism, led a delegation to the US in February to represent Tanzania at the New York Times Travel Show and then visit Dallas and San Diego. The report noted that tourism to Tanzania is booming with arrivals increasing by 12% in the past year. The UK and US are prime tourism markets.

Rumit Mehta (L) and Dr. Jumanne Abdallah Maghembe

Rumit Mehta, Director of Business Development, Safari Ventures, a co-sponsor of the trip, said:

It is important that Tanzania is represented by such high-level of delegates led by the Honarable Minister. It allows the American public to meet face-to-face and discuss the destination with their hosts- including the Minister himself. It infuses confidence in the tour operators such as Safari Ventures that Tanzania is a serious contender in promoting tourism and investment.

Tanzanian tourism has been helped by increased focus in the media on Tanzania’s unique natural attractions, including USA Today naming the Serengeti National Park as the new ‘7th Wonder of the World’, (blogged here).

To change the system, we have to work on the whole system. Increased tourism helps to justify investment in better infrastructure like roads, and better roads help tourism. We need to work on both the roads and the tourism.

Of course, the School of St Jude is a mini-tourism event in itself. It attracts hundreds of visitors a year to Arusha. These visitors come to see the school, visit friends who are volunteering there, or they come help out (see my post about Rotary volunteers).

A Minister visits the US and jobs are created in Arusha, the centre for Tanzanian safari tourism. This means better job prospects for poor families in the Arusha district and future job/business opportunities for the children at St Judes.

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