Tanzania relays heavily on the tourism sector for its foreign exchange earnings and to save this vital sector, the country has announced plans to have all hotels and other tourist facilities across the country bear Covid-19 certificates that basically declare the facility a Covid-19 free area.
According to the Bank of Tanzania (BoT) the tourism sector is Tanzania’s top foreign exchange earner clocking USD 2.44 billion last year. It only makes sense that the country would do all in its power to save the sector in the wake of the pandemic.
The move, to have tourism facilities display Covid-19 free zone poster is expected to build the trust of tourists and allow them to regain confidence in the hotels or related facility.
The said ‘posters’ will be the kind that health officers place in the windows of restaurants abroad with the grade of the said hotel in full display. The grades run from A to F and when a customers sees the rating on the window seal before entering the restaurant, they are empowered to know how that restaurant has been rated and if they are willing or happy with the grade they can go in and enjoy their meal.
So now hotels in Tanzania along with other tourist facilities like restaurants, will be required to place the ‘Covid-19 Free’ sign visibly at their point of entries. Already strict warning has been issued by the government announcing that it will take extreme penal action for all those who don’t.
The Covid-19 Free certification is actually a recommendation by the hospitality sector stakeholders themselves. Speaking to reports recently in the commercial capital of Dar es Salaam, hospitality and tourism stakeholders described this new feature as part of their Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs).
Furthermore, it will now be a requirement of all hospitality and tourism facilities to hire and train what they described as a Covid-19 Liaison Officer who will in turn be the key person to contact 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, as part of the proposed SOPs, “…all arriving flights are required to have an Advance Passenger Information System (APIS), compliant so as to allow the Tanzania’s Immigration Department and Airport Authorities to receive and interrogate the flight manifest for possible high-risk passengers,” reads the released statement in part.
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.
The tourism Ministry is now 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.
As part of these measures to reassure would be tourists, is the review of business bylaws within to include a clause on insurance policies that will assure tourists of swift evacuation in the event of indentified health risks.
The tourism industry in Tanzania as elsewhere in the World is projected to face its worst financial crisis ever. Already the sector has come to a complete stand still suffering the largest job casualties in any industry including the airlines. The risk stands at almost 500,000 people going jobless by the end of the year.
Tanzania’s tourism sector is now bringing to the country more foreign exchange than even gold, the traditional high earner. In its bid 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, 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. Already Tanzania has reopened its borders and allowed flights into the country.
The combined efforts of the two measures, having tourism facilities declare they are Covid-free and to also have designated staff to monitor progress of the disease as well as initiating more digital engagement stand to boost the sector.
Already the country has suffered great loss in tour operations over the course of the last few months as airlines were grounded and tourism activities had to be shut down. Much remains to be seen whether these measures will rebuild confidence and motivate tourists to again visit the country.