TANAPA stirs more trouble for Tanzania’s tourism industry


(Posted 17th May 2015)

‘These increases are arbitrary. These increases are not transparent. These increases will be opposed even if TANAPA once more holds vehicles and tourists hostage at the gates. They will see us’ let a regular commentator from Arusha off steam when sending information overnight that TANAPA had indeed slapped some 27 lodges and camps with per night extra charges of between 30 US Dollars and 100 US Dollars. If these charges are sanctioned by the Ministry of Natural Resources and Tourism, will a safari of say seven nights, using the top layer of those singled out, suddenly cost 700 US Dollars more per client, a sure recipe to wipe out much of the existing demand.

Another source close to one of the leading tourism associations in Tanzania also commented, first saying it will be hard to explain to foreign tour operators coming to the Karibu Travel Market Tanzania later this month, why charges will suddenly and without any due notice rise: ‘We have a lot more lodges and camps in the national parks than just those 27 they have selected. No one knows why these 27 properties have been singled out and why they have been targeted and yet others have been left off the hook. The main fallout will be competitiveness because some properties will suddenly be much more expensive and that normally results in a shift of demand to lower priced facilities. So has TANAPA now become a market regulator because that will be the net effect of their planned new fee. 2014 was a very difficult year. Like everyone else in the region was Tanzania made to suffer through the Ebola hysteria. Then we had widely publicized issues with the access to Nairobi airport besides constant negative reports about the state of poaching in our country. Tourist numbers have gone down and we should sit and strategize together, private and public sector, how we can reverse that trend. This is again the worst a public sector body could do and it shows they are run by ignorants who have no idea on market mechanisms and what their action will cause. Those responsible should all be sacked because their action amounts to sabotage!’.

Tanzania’s representative at the East Africa Tourism Platform, Mr. Richard Rugimbana, was also cited to have made his opposition to the arbitrary selection clear while pointing out that the Tourism Confederation of Tanzania, in short TCT, and their member associations, are not categorically opposed to a gradual rise in concession fees or the fact that such fees should in principle be applied.

What seems obvious is that the consultative processes, which should be in place across the region before any sort of fees are being raised, is not working well and that the public sector must learn that due advance notice is absolutely essential, given that many tour brochures are put on the market as long as a year and a half in advance. Once costed tours and safaris are published, consumer legislation in many tourist source countries protects them against any price increases and hence it would be the local businesses to bear the damage of fees raised prior to such thresholds, a totally unacceptable situation. And of course it is acknowledged here too that some wildlife management bodies in the region are doing better as far as consultations are concerned. Those deserve bouquets while TANAPA once more deserves mega barbs an arbitrary decision which by the look of it lacks transparency and logic.