As Russia goes to war with Ukraine, Tanzania, a country which has been courting tourists from Moscow has a reason to worry.
Last year, nearly 150,000 foreign visitors hailed from Russia. This year, as the country recovers from the global Covid-19 pandemic, the number was expected to rise.
Then suddenly war gets unleashed in Eastern Europe and Northern Asia. Observers in the tourism industry find this to be another threat in the sector.
Between January and July 2021 for instance, over 75,000 russians flew to Tanzania for leisure visits, according to the data collected from the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS).
A considerable number of Ukraine visitors have also been visiting Tanzania as of recent times.
Travellers from Moscow topped the tourists bill in Tanzania during the pandemic period. But especially during the first six-months of the year 2021.
Even worse is United States’ threats to intervene in the fracas by imposing sanctions.
The prayers of the world are with the people of Ukraine tonight as they suffer an unprovoked and unjustified attack by Russian military forces. President Putin has chosen a premeditated war that will bring a catastrophic loss of life and human suffering. I will be meeting with the Leaders of the G7, and the United States and our Allies and partners will be imposing severe sanctions on Russia. We will continue to provide support and assistance to Ukraine and the Ukrainian people.Joe Biden – The President of the United States of America
The United States and European countries have always been topping the list as far as foreign visitors touring Tanzania is concerned, during better days, that it.
But during the pandemic, when many of the US and EU citizens took cover in the safety of their homes, Russians went out in the wild and landed in Tanzania, topping the visitors bill last year.
“Yes we are bound to be affected,” stated the Executive Officer for the Tanzania Association of Tour Operators (TATO), Sirili Akko.
Akko admitted that, visitors from Ukraine and Russia though weren’t common in the past, their recent trips to Tanzania helped cushion the country’s tourism industry, during global lockdown period of 2020-2021.
While we couldn’t immeadiately get figures of Ukraine visitors to Tanzania, but over 100,000 Russians toured the country in the course of last year and thousands more were visiting local destinations between January and February 2022.
Kenya, the immeadiate neighbor across the Northern borderline, was second in sending in over 75,000 visitors to the country during that period of last year.
A recent survey at Tanzania’s newest (Nyerere) National Park, in the Southern Circuit, revealed that Russians and Polish tourists made frequent trips to the country’s largest reserve yet.
Many Russian and Polish visitors seamlessly linked their Nyerere National Park inineraries with Beach and Sun Basking in Zanzibar Islands, according to Seth Mihayo the Park Conservator in-charge of tourism department.
At least 60,000 tourists from Poland visited Tanzania during the Coronavirus period between 2020 and 2021.
Others visitors who braved journeys to Tanzania hailed from Malawi, Burundi, Zambia and South Africa.
An expert in the industry who also served as legislator, Mustafa Akunay stated that war freezes transport all over the globe, thus Tourism generally will affected globally.
“So it is not just tourists from Russia and Ukraine, but many people will not be able to travel during war!” he pointed out.
“Plus there is the usual cases of rising commodity prices, especially fuel,” said Mr Akunay. He expressed worry that other big nations such as China may join into the fray creating something close to World War III.