Tanzania seeks 40% more tourists in 2013

2013-11-14 09:11
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Dar es Salaam  - Tanzania, famed for its safari parks beneath snow-capped Mount Kilimanjaro, aims to attract 40 percent more tourists this year, its tourism minister said on Wednesday.

Tanzania, East Africa's second biggest economy, forecasts 1.5 million visitors this year as it breaks into new Asian markets. In the year to September, tourism earned more hard currency than gold exports for the first time in several years, Central Bank data show.

"Our target is very, very ambitious but we think it can be achieved," Tourism and Natural Resources Minister Khamis Kagasheki told Reuters in an interview.

Tourist numbers hit the 1 million mark for the first time in 2012. Tourism earnings raked in $1.818bn (R18.6bn at R10.29/dollar)  in the 12 months to September, up from $1.61bn (R16.5bn) a year earlier.

Tanzania has sought to capitalise on neighbouring Kenya's security woes. Both countries compete for sun worshippers seeking an Indian Ocean idyll as well as wildlife enthusiasts.

The number of tourists visiting Kenya sank 15% in the first five months of the year and an attack by Somali militants on a Nairobi shopping mall which killed at least 67 people will have damaged confidence in Kenya as a holiday destination.

Kagasheki said Tanzania was intensifying efforts to tackle a surge in the poaching of elephant ivory and rhino horns.

Poaching has surged across sub-Saharan Africa, where armed criminal gangs are slaughtering elephants to feed Asia's demand for ivory, as well as rhinos, whose horns are ground into powder for use in Asian medicines.

"Poaching is a big problem," the tourism minister said. "Poachers enter protected areas not carrying shotguns and rifles, but military weapons like AK-47s and sub-machineguns."

Read more on:    tanzania  |  travel  |  travel international
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