An uptick in diplomatic ties between Tanzania and Israel has started to bear socio-economic fruits, the Prime Minister Kassim Majaliwa said.
The premier who saw off 274 tourists on the Israeli Airlines plane at the Kilimanjaro International Airport (KIA) over the weekend, pleaded with the visitors to serve as Tanzania`s ambassadors back home.
Over 1,000 tourists from Israel were since April 20, this year, in the northern tourism circuit to sample various attractions in Serengeti National Park and Ngorongoro Conservation Area.
The first group of the tourists left on Friday night, the second, which was seen off by the Premier, flew on Saturday afternoon, the third on Saturday evening and the last on Saturday night.
Majaliwa invited members of the business community from Israel to invest in the tourism sector in the natural-resource rich Tanzania. He further asked the Israelis to consider coming back to visit Rubondo, Katavi and Ruaha National Parks and Selous Game Reserve in the Southern Circuit as well as Zanzibar.
`We are flattered,` Majaliwa told Carmel Shlomo, the Director of Another World, as he extended his gratitude to local and Israel tour operators for promoting Tanzania as number one tourist attraction in Africa.
Ten tour operating firms were involved in arranging the Israelis` safari to Serengeti and Ngorongoro Crater, namely Excellent Guides, Mauly Tours and Safaris, Matembezi, Leopard Tours and Safaris, African Queen Adventures and TAWISA from Tanzania and Another World, My Trip, Camel and Safari Company from Israel.
The Tanzania Tourist Board Director, Devotha Mdachi, said a similar group of tourists from Israel were scheduled to arrive in Tanzania by June 2019. `Also expected in May this year are over 300 tourists from China,` she said in an interview, adding that the board was arranging a trip of Israel journalists and tour operators to Tanzania later this year.
One of the Israeli tourists marveled at how the country is very good and its people excellent upon his arrival a week ago, but however observed that roads heading for Serengeti needed to be improved.
Dr. Hamis Kigwangalla, the Natural Resources and Tourism Minister said the government was reforming the tourism sector for it to offer quality services. Last year, the ministry unveiled its ambitious plan to invest over Tshs.300 billion ($130 million) in the untapped Southern circuit for the country to register 2.2 million tourist arrivals a year from the current 1.3 million.
Dr. Kigwangalla said the money would be spent on improving infrastructure, increasing tourist services and promoting the virgin destinations and its rich culture, cuisine and the people of Tanzania cemented renewal of its friendship with Israel when it opened its embassy in Ramat Gan in May 2018, over 20 years after ties between the two countries were re-established.
Tanzania had initially established diplomatic ties with Israel in 1963, but they were torn asunder in 1973, thanks to the intense Arab pressure.
Earnings from tourism, Tanzania`s main source of hard currency, jumped 7.13 per cent in 2018, as a result of increased arrivals of foreign visitors. Tourism revenues fetched Tshs5.5 trillion ($2.43 billion) during the period 2018, up from Tshs.5 trillion ($2.19 billion) in 2017. Tourist arrivals totaled 1.49 million in 2018, as opposed to 1.33 million in 2017.