The Inclusive Growth of Tourism in Tanzania
The Inclusive Growth of Tourism in Tanzania and the Need for a New Paradigm
Today, tourism is among the fastest-growing economic sectors in Tanzania. In recent years, it has been the second largest services exporter after mining and also the fourth largest source of foreign exchange earnings. The tourism sector accounts for 9% of Tanzania’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and employs around 5% of the workforce; this figure is expected to grow by another 7% by 2025.
However, a closer look at these impressive figures reveals that tourism growth has mostly benefitted foreign visitors and high-end hotels and lodges.
Meanwhile, the local communities continue to face negative impacts from the industry’s rapid expansion, including loss of natural resources, erosion of cultural values and practices, exposure to potential risks from pandemic diseases, and a decline in agricultural productivity due to reduced availability of seasonal migrant workers. Moreover, as in many other tourist destinations around the world, inequality is increasing within Tanzania as a result of intensified tourism activities.
Local communities are not getting their fair share from operators who lease land for hotels and lodges; women are not being compensated fairly for their work or access to microcredit schemes; while average wages remain low even with increased demand for labor during peak seasons.
What is inclusive growth?
Inclusive growth is an economic model that promotes equity, inclusion and prosperity for all sections of society. It seeks to broaden the benefits of economic growth to more people and regions.
This is in contrast to a more extractive model where a few people benefit from the growth of an industry and the rest of society bears the costs.
Inclusive growth means ensuring that economic growth and the resulting benefits are shared by all sections of society.
For this to happen, everyone needs to have the opportunity to participate in the economy.
The focus, therefore, needs to be on removing barriers and improving access to resources and opportunities.
The Inclusive Growth of Tourism in Tanzania
The tourism sector in Tanzania has grown significantly in recent years, attracting millions of visitors every year and contributing billions of dollars to the country’s Gross Domestic Product.
However, despite its strong economic performance, the sector has been criticized for not adequately addressing the needs of local communities, especially women, who are the mainstay of tourism in the country.
Indeed, the tourism sector has not been inclusive and has not delivered benefits to all the people of Tanzania.
The sector has seen a concentration of benefits among the elite and international stakeholders, including multinational hotel management companies, airlines, tour operators and other service providers.
Moreover, the tourism sector in Tanzania has seen limited growth in employment opportunities for women, youth and people living in rural areas.
The need for a new paradigm in tourism development
The Inclusive Growth of Tourism or the current tourism growth model has proved unsustainable, as it has led to environmental degradation, has failed to generate quality employment and has not been socially inclusive.
There is therefore a need for the government to develop a new model that is sustainable, inclusive and socially responsible.
This new model should be based on the principles of equity, inclusiveness, sustainability, cultural authenticity and social responsibility.
This new model should be based on the equity in terms of benefiting all people and regions of Tanzania, regardless of gender, ethnicity or location.
It should also be based on inclusiveness in terms of providing equal opportunities for participation in all aspects of the tourism value chain, including employment, entrepreneurship and access to finance.
The model should also be based on sustainability, including the protection of the environment and cultural heritage.
Extractive nature of the current growth model
The current growth model for the tourism sector has been described as ‘extractive’ because it has been characterized by the takeover of land by foreign investors and the under-compensation of local communities.
The main cause of inequality in the sector has been the lack of transparent laws and regulations governing the tourism sector.
This has allowed investors to acquire land without fulfilling the requirements of consultation and transparent compensation.
The increase in land value has been the main driver of inequality, as local communities have often been under-compensated, while multinational investors have used the rising value of land to justify increased purchase prices.
Towards an Inclusive Paradigm in Tourism Development
The current state of tourism in Tanzania indicates that the growth of the sector has been mostly driven by foreign demand and interests, in line with the country’s tourism vision to grow into a leading tourism destination in Africa by 2025.
This growth model | Inclusive Growth of Tourism is unsustainable and needs to be replaced by one based on an inclusive approach.
The inclusive tourism model needs to be driven by the needs of the Tanzanian people, including their culture, socio-economic conditions, and environmental and climatic conditions.
The inclusive growth of tourism model should be built on the following pillars:
- Inclusive Leadership and Governance: The model should be based on a shared vision and mission and strong leadership from the government and tourism stakeholders.
- Sustainable and Inclusive Tourism Product: The government and tourism sector must work together to create an authentic and sustainable tourist product based on the country’s natural, cultural and social assets, including wildlife, and that is inclusive of all Tanzanians.
- Inclusive and Equitable Investment Climate: The government and other stakeholders must develop a policy environment that attracts and retains investment, while also ensuring that investments are made with the interests of Tanzanians in mind.
- Inclusive Human Resource Development: The government and the tourism sector must work together to ensure that the labor force is appropriately trained and skilled to meet the needs of the sector.
- Inclusive Access to Finance: The government and the tourism sector must work together to create more financial products and services that are easily accessible to all Tanzanians.
The inclusive growth of tourism in Tanzania has been mostly driven by foreign demand and interests, in line with the country’s tourism vision to grow into a leading tourism destination in Africa by 2025.
The Inclusive Growth of Tourism is unsustainable and needs to be replaced by one based on an inclusive approach.
The inclusive tourism model needs to be built on the following pillars: inclusive leadership and governance, sustainable and inclusive tourism product, inclusive and equitable investment climate, inclusive human resource development, inclusive access to finance and an inclusive and sustainable tourism product.