Good news emerged over the weekend when the rankings by Safaribookings.com became known, which put Tanzania, albeit by a mere whisker, on top of the African rankings as the continent’s leading safari destination.
Second came Botswana, followed by the arguably more fancied Kenya, Zambia and South Africa.
The news were warmly welcomed among tourism stakeholders who in recent days struggled to come to terms with the impact of two incidents over the past 8 weeks in Arusha, and who have now taken renewed courage and spirits from beating their nearest rivals to claim Africa’s top position.
Named as key factors to hand Tanzania the ‘victory’ in the contest were Ngorongoro Crater and the Serengeti, two globally known parks which for decades have kindled the world’s travellers keenest interest and have become part of literally every bucket list drawn up.
Comments from Tanzania’s deputy minister for tourism though were taken with more than a grain of salt, when he publicly claimed that ‘Kenya’s days are numbered’, an utterance both undiplomatic for a ministerial position and very much unlike his superior, cabinet minister for natural resources and tourism Amb. Khamis Kagesheki would have said in public.
‘Nyalandu’s comments are a disgrace. Instead of reveling in the accomplishment he introduces cheap politics. We need to seek cooperation in East Africa to market our region, which has captured positions one and three from among all African destinations, and not start another round of cat fights’ commented a regular source from Arusha before continuing: ‘Our main rivals are not ourselves, because in East Africa we can have one destination with many attractions. Our main rivals are South Africa, Namibia, Zimbabwe, Zambia and Mozambique. When we finally have the common tourist Visa we can harvest more tourists because they find it easier then, and cheaper, to visit several or all of our countries. Each has big attractions. I followed your reports from Rwanda last week about their gorilla naming. We have no gorillas in Tanzania but visitors can still come to the Serengeti and Ngorongoro and then fly to Rwanda for the gorillas. We have the one and only Kilimanjaro in Tanzania but Kenya has Mt. Kenya and you in Uganda have the Rwenzori Mountains. So again, alpinists can come and do all three in one holiday. This is co-ompetion in a positive way. We need to build on our mutual strengths and people like Nyalandu need to come out of their negative mind set and work hand in hand instead of making such inflammatory statements. East Africa has many challenges to succeed in tourism, given security issues, budget issues and other reasons, so let him hold his horses and follow his senior minister’s lead by being diplomatic’ said the source from Arusha, for obvious reasons not wishing to be named.
Others agreed that ‘friendly competition’ can only help to raise standards and gain exposure in the world market and that, as a given fact, a cross border itinerary for safaris, which includes all the key attractions of the region, is the most preferable option for tourists who come a very long way.
Congratulations to Tanzania for making the top rankings of Safaribookings.com and best of luck in the current voting season for Africa’s best lodges, resorts, hotels and attractions by the World Travel Awards, the winners of which will be presented, and no pun intended here, in Nairobi later this year. Watch this space.