Tanzania has set up a National Convention Bureau to promote conference tourism as a way of speeding up the industry's recovery from the impact of Covid-19.
The Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Tourism Dr Aloyce Nzuki, last week said that Tanzania's diplomatic offices in various countries around the world will be used to canvass for more international conferences to be held in Tanzania.
The NCB will function as a department under the coordination of the Tanzania Tourist Board (TTB) and handle all arrangements and bookings for international conferences, symposiums, conventions and other meetings, Dr Nzuki explained.
He described conference tourism as a key tourism product that has not been properly tapped in the past despite its huge potential to complement the numerous beach and wildlife attractions that abound in Tanzania.
Last month the ministry launched an electronic database to monitor the quality of tourist and visitor accommodation services in the country.
According to the PS, the database will monitor income statuses among visitors to the country and their individual abilities to afford service costs at accommodation facilities other than expensive hotels and lodges which offer higher and expensive packages.
The Accommodation Services in Tanzania will match East African Hotel Classification criteria to determine the quality of service delivery to tourists and other visitors to Tanzania and other East African Community (EAC) states, Dr Nzuki said.
The electronic database will also help tourism authorities to get information from the Approved Accommodation Facilities in Tanzania as to ensure quality services to clients to match with the EAC standards.
Approved Accommodation Facilities are the Town Hotels, Vacation Hotels, Lodges, Motels, Tented Camps, Villas, Cottages and Serviced Apartments and Restaurants.
By end of last year, Tanzania had a total of 308 registered accommodation facilities with Star Class, up from 67 in 2015, Dr Nzuki said.
The World Bank recommended in December that Tanzania and other African countries should focus on tourism diversification to mitigate the impact of Covid-19 on their respective economies.
The chairman of the Pretoria-based African Tourism Board, Cuthbert Ncube, told The EastAfrican that regional and intra-Africa tourism development could be an optional step that would help African states mitigate Covid-19 impacts on tourism.
Mr Ncube said lockdowns imposed in Europe, the United States of America and other tourist source markets have devastated African tourism with a big blow to the economies.
“We need to open intra-Africa travel by diversifying of tourist sites including the continent’s rich cultural heritages, historical and nature protected areas which attract our own people in addition to wildlife attracting Europeans, Americans and other visitors outside the continent”, he told The EastAfrican.
Tanzania is targeting to attract five million tourists annually by 2025 from the current 1.8 million, and earn $6 billion per year from the $2.6 billion figure recorded before the coronavirus pandemic.
Tourism was the leading source of foreign exchange earnings in Tanzania before the Covid-19 outbreak.
Industry earnings reached $2.5 billion in 2019 but by the end of 2020 had dropped to about $598 million mainly due to the Covid-19 crisis, according to official data.