Tanzania is expecting hundreds of tourists on its spectacular beaches and national parks following a directive from President John Magufuli to reopen the economy.
The visitors will not go through the recommended 14-day quarantine, for that was suspended last week. They will only have their temperatures checked on arrival, as per new guidelines issued by the Minister of Health.
“All travellers are required to truthfully fill out Traveller’s Surveillance Form available on-board or in any other transport means and submit it to Port Health Authorities upon arrival,” read part of the ministry’s health’s new guideline last week.
Last week, Magufuli directed hotels and schools to resume normalcy in his pursuit for “herd immunity” a strategy which allows for more than 60% of the population to gain some resistance to the coronavirus by becoming infected and recovering.
He said “if you lock people inside, their immunity falls by 30%, according to the literature that I have seen” and hotels in the commercial capital Dar es Salaam are heeding the call.
Quoting the country’s tourism Minister, local media reported Monday that visitors are expected aboard Ethiopian, KLM and Turkish Airlines sometime next week.
“We’re resuming our tourism activities, getting ready to receive international tourists from all over the world especially now that nations have started lifting lockdowns,” said Hamisi Kigwangalla, the Minister for Natural Resources and Tourism.
Minister Kigwangalla was making reference to European countries such as; UK, France, Ireland, Greece, Spain, Turkey and Iceland that are relaxing their lockdowns and have planned partial re-opening of airspaces. Europe forms the largest bulk of Tanzania’s visitors.
Tanzania opened its airspace to international arrivals on May 18, 2020, becoming the first East African nation to do so. Uganda, Kenya and Rwanda are maintaining the restrictions imposed in March to contain the spread of the disease, which has killed over 345,000 people across the globe.
A chartered plane with four Greek nationals onboard landed at the Kilimanjaro International Airport on May 21. The visitors proceeded straight to sample the country’s tourist attractions without quarantine.
Tourism is a critical sector of Tanzania’s economy, contributing about 17 per cent to the annual Gross Domestic Product and employing an estimated 623,000 workers.
About 1.9 million tourists visited the country’s parks and beaches last year, injecting $2.5 billion into the economy according to data from the Ministry of Natural Resources.
The country estimates that a continued shutdown of its borders would have drastically reduced earnings from tourism by 75 per cent. Majority of the tourists who booked their travel prior the pandemic postponed their trips to next year.
Tanzania has not reported its national tally of Covid-19 positive cases since April 29. Its official toll remains at 509 with 21 deaths as at May 7, when the semi-autonomous Zanzibar island last announced its numbers.