Themed, “Rethinking Tourism Africa” as part of World Tourism Day, the conference and exhibitions being held at Gran Melia Hotel in the heart of country’s northern safari capital of Arusha is being organized by Tanzania Association of Tour Operators (TATO) and Alliance française.

Kicking off today on September 26 and running through to tomorrow the 27th, the high profile gathering attracted nearly 200 influential tourism players, exhibitors, and tourism enthusiasts.

“This event is part of the World Tourism Day commemoration. Apart from a discussion forum to be attended by the UNWTO experts, UNDP, and other pertinent organizations, the forum will hear about the most compelling topic on industry resilience and recovery,” said TATO CEO Mr. Sirili Akko.

It is understood, UNDP is developing an ambitious strategy that seeks to position a multi-billion-dollar tourism industry to foster the local economy.

The prospective integrated tourism and Local Economic Development (LED) blueprint will come up with an apt mode of transferring tourist dollars into the pockets of a critical mass of ordinary folks living adjacent to the country’s northern, southern, western, and coastal tourist circuits.

UNDP Tanzania through its Green Growth and Innovation Disruptions project is in collaboration with TATO and UNWTO working overtime in preparation for the integrated tourism and LED strategy.

The blueprint seeks to enhance the recovery of tourism from the COVID-19 pandemic and identify ways for both businesses and communities to benefit from the tourist attractions and in turn dedicate themselves to sustainable conservation of the assets.

It will also capacitate all actors in the entire tourism value chains to become competitive, resilient, and effectively integrated into the industry.

The strategy will focus on growth, poverty reduction, and social inclusion, as it will promote participation, dialogue, and connect people to surrounding resources for decent employment and a quality life for both men and women.

The UNDP Tanzania Resident Representative, Ms. Christine Musisi, underscored the need for involving communities adjacent to the tourism circuits not only in conservation drives, but also in sharing benefits arising from the industry.

Tourism offers Tanzania the long-term potential to create good jobs, generate foreign exchange earnings, provide revenue to support the preservation and maintenance of natural and cultural heritage, and expand the tax base to finance development expenditures and poverty-reduction efforts.

The latest World Bank Tanzania Economic Update, “Transforming Tourism: Toward a Sustainable, Resilient, and Inclusive Sector,” highlights tourism as central to the country’s economy, livelihoods, and poverty reduction, particularly for women, who make up 72 percent of all workers in the tourism sector.

Tourism can empower women in multiple ways, particularly through the provision of jobs and through income-generating opportunities in small- and larger-scale tourism and hospitality related enterprises.

As one of the industries with the highest share of women employed and entrepreneurs, tourism can be a tool for women to unlock their potential, helping them to become fully engaged and lead in every aspect of society.

The UN agency says that as one of the largest and fastest growing economic industries in the world, tourism is well positioned to foster economic growth and development at all levels and provides income through job creation.

Each year on September 27, tourism stakeholders across the world have been coming together to celebrate contributions from the tourism and hospitality sector.

This date is set by UNWTO not only to deliberate the tourism and hospitality contributions to the economies of the world, livelihood, and poverty alleviation, but also to create awareness on relevance of the industry.

The key event also will display “The Last Tourist Documentary” to industry players from inside and beyond in order to explore their ability to harness tourism’s power in a way that creates shared value for both travelers and host communities while preserving the places and natural resources they treasure most.

Acting Director of Alliance française in Arusha, Mr. Jean-Michel Rousset, said the event comes at the opportune moment as it intends to bring awareness on the importance of the tourism industry among professionals as well as the general public.

“We are very delighted that the gathering brought together the tourism industry players and [to] deliberate on the ripple effects of the COVID-19 pandemic as well as how best to mitigate such kind of impact on their industry in future,” he said.

The tourism industry gathering will also see the several side events, like the exhibition for the industry privately organized at the Gran Melia Hotel.

“I’m very excited to run [a] concurrent exhibition event in line with this important forum that brings together the tourism legends,” said Mr. Carlos Fernandes.

The official World Tourism Day celebration being held in Bali, Indonesia, on September 27, highlights the shift towards tourism being recognized as a crucial pillar of development.