Tanzania became the first East African nation to reopen its schools, businesses and ports of entry, charting a new path in the management of the Corona Virus.
As of May 18, Tanzania reopened its airspace for international arrivals and the World is responding.
Only three days after it announced its reopening its airspace, local media reported that a chartered airplane landed at the Kilimanjaro International Airport on May 21. The plane had on board four Greek nationals.
Previously, the tourists would have had to go into a 14-day mandatory quarantine but not anymore. Now anyone entering the country only needs to go through a simple temperature check upon arrival. Other measures include having all arriving flights present an Advance Passenger Information System (APIS) so as to allow the Tanzania’s Immigration Department and Airport Authorities to identify high-risk passengers.
All non-APIS compliant flights will now be required to notify their passengers that they will be subjected to the Health Ministry’s screening or be denied entry into the country all together.
Further still, the Tanzania Tourism Ministry is expected to establish a Tourism Covid-19 Response Team that will be responsible for communicating safety measures that the country has taken in an effort to inform potential tourists that the country is safe for travel.
Backing the President’s order, Tanzania’s Minister for Natural Resources and Tourism, said Hamisi Kigwangalla announced, “We are resuming our tourism activities, getting ready to receive international tourists from all over the world especially now that nations have started lifting lockdowns.”
Opening its airspace is only one part of the equation, Tanzania’s hospitality and tourism stakeholders have gone ahead and set out what they refer to as the Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs).
The SOPs describes in detail what the country’s tourism and hospitality stakeholders will do to ensure safety of their staff and guests. For example, it is now a requirement for all hospitality and tourism facilities to hire and train a Covid-19 Liaison Officer who will be the key contact person with the Health Ministry.
This Liaison Officer will be expected to stay on top of all new developments in regards to the Covid-19 daily updates as released by health officials in and out of the country and this too will be part and parcel of the facility’s SOP.
Further still, Tanzania’s Health Ministry has set several health measures to govern the receiving of flights and tourists. According to the country’s Health Minister, it is now expected for passengers to submit proof that they have tested negative for Covid-19.
The ministry has also gone ahead and outlined several measures that will be taken in the reception of international arrivals.
Tanzania’s tourist and visitors Covid-19 check list
- All entrants will be required to fill out travelers’ surveillance forms and submit to Port Health Authorities upon arrival
- Adhere to Infection Prevention and Control measures e.g. hand hygiene, wearing masks and physical distancing
- Flight operators to clean and disinfect their aircraft before and after landing in the country
- Tourism facilities to adhere to security measures and display Covid-19 free zone posters
- Tourism and hospitality facilities to hire and train a Covid-19 Liaison Officer
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While it is yet to be determined how the rest of the world will respond to the open borders, it is safe to assume that the tourism sector will revive. Granted it has taken a major financial hit, with Tanzania reporting the sector has been affected by 75 percent but with European countries also re-opening their economic, it is expected that the sector will start picking up in the third and fourth quarters.
According to the Bank of Tanzania (BoT) the tourism sector is Tanzania’s top foreign exchange earner clocking USD 2.44 billion last year. Tanzania’s tourism sector is now bringing to the country more foreign exchange than even gold, the traditional high earner.
However, the tourism industry in Tanzania as elsewhere in the World is projected to face its worst financial year ever.
To maintain growth of the sector, the Tanzania Tourism Board (TTB) has embarked on digital marketing for the sector. Among other things, TTB has launched a Tanzania Tourism App as part of its e-marketing strategy. Further still, the official website, www.tanzaniatourism.com has now been upgraded and is more interactive. Rather than a platform for information only, visitors can now book their safaris on the website.
This digital platform is vital in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic because it reduces faces to face engagements which risk spread of the disease. The combined efforts of the two measures, having tourism facilities declare they are Covid-free and to also have a designated staff to monitor progress of the disease as well as initiating more digital engagement stand to boost the sector.
As other economies resume activities, it is expected that the tourism sector will slowly but surely also regain momentum. It is expected that tourists will at first shy away from travel mainly due to their own economies having taken a hit and individual disposable income having decreased but as things stabilize and normalize, travel and tour will resume.