Cultural Tourism in Tanzania has
been developing since 1996, under the stewardship of the Tanzania
Tourist Board (TTB) in collaboration with Ministry of Natural Resources
& Tourism (MNRT) and The Netherlands Development Organization
(SNV). Cultural Tourism was initiated by youth in local community
in Northern Tanzania. The product came as a result of Maasai youth
group that was used to dance alongside the Northern safari road
accessing Lake Manyara, Ngorongoro and the Serengeti major tourist
attractions in the area. During these volunteering dances, resulted
to them been given a small change or tip for doing an interesting
entertainment along the way. As it became popular, the youth group
realized that, they are losing by lacking formal way of selling
their cultural product. The group decided to seek assistance from
SNV who were by that time doing a number of development projects
in the Maasai land. SNV contacted the Ministry of Natural Resources
and Tourism and TTB to see how collaboration can be forged to develop
the product. At the same time National Tourism Policy had stipulated
community involvement in Tourism operation giving a room for various
community-based tourism initiatives to be kick-started.
Tanzania had to define its cultural tourism product to be more precise.
In the Tanzania context however, cultural tourism adopts a community-based
tourism approach in which the people are directly involved in designing,
organizing tours and showing tourists aspects of their lives in
the area they live in. While economic benefit is derived from this
activity, some cross cultural exchange between visitors and the
local people is also developed. Operated through the criteria of
ownership of the activities undertaken and equitable distribution
of the income generated are underlying factors of the programme.
It is people tourism that enables tourists to experience the local
people’s way of life, offering insights into the values, beliefs
and traditions in the host communities’ own environments.
The aim was and is to develop and promote cultural excursions, organized
by local people in their natural environment where they live today.
Cultural Tourism development took an approach of Sustainable Pro-poor
Tourism. This is a way of doing tourism so that it focuses specifically
on unlocking opportunities for the poor to benefit more within tourism,
rather than expanding the overall size of the sector. Sustainable
Pro-poor Tourism goes well beyond ecotourism and community based
tourism. It is an approach that attempts to maximize the potential
of tourism for eradicating poverty by developing appropriate strategies
in co-operation with all major groups/stakeholders central government,
local governments, tourism operators, and local communities to have
a fair distribution of benefits.
Currently there are over 41 Cultural Tourism Enterprises (CTEs)
that TTB has helped establishing. Basically the CTEs operate as
a total set of products that involve different cultural and natural
attractions, activities and provision of services in a given local
community. The CTEs provide employment and income generating opportunities
to local communities in rural areas of Tanzania hence decreasing
rural to urban areas migration. There have been approximately 20%
increases in arrivals yearly. Over the past 15 years Mto wa Mbu
Cultural Tourism Enterprise has realized a tenfold increment in
arrivals and revenues collected. Most CTEs focus on offering cultural
experiences including: experiencing people’s way of life,
traditional dances/ceremonies, sampling of local cuisines, home-stays,
daily homestead chores, handicrafts, community development initiatives,
indigenous knowledge, historical heritage, nature walks, and local
folklores. There are wishes for a geographical expansion and a diversification
of the Cultural Tourism products to guarantee a further growth of
Tanzania cultural tourism as an additional tourist product that
will enhance tourism local economic impact and increase the length
of stay of tourists in destination Tanzania.
Supporters for Cultural Tourism
Currently there are three main partners pushing the Cultural Tourism
initiative i.e. Tanzania Tourist Board through its Cultural tourism
Programme Unit in collaboration with the Ministry of Natural Resources
and Tourism with support from other support organizations such as
United Nations-World Tourism Organization Sustainable Tourism-Eliminating
Poverty ((UNWTO ST-EP) foundation, Tanzania Private Sector Foundation
(TPSF)-Cluster Competitiveness Programme (CCP), Food and Agricultural
Organization of the United Nations (FAO-UN) and Centre for Development
of Enterprises (CDE). In different times CTP was supported by The
Netherlands Development Organization (SNV) and International Union
for Conservation of Nature (IUCN-NL).
The Cultural Tourism Programme gives visitors to Tanzania the chance
to tour tribal areas to meet the people and experience their traditional
way of life. Through the programmes, visitors also experience indigenous
attractions and scenery of rural Tanzania.
It is a rewarding experience to leave the safari-car behind and
climb the mountains of the agricultural tribes of northern Tanzania
to see how coffee is grown by subsistence farmers or to walk across
the plains to explore the rich traditions of the pastoral tribes
whose culture is closely linked to nature and wildlife.
Still the visitor can follow the drumbeats and let the tribal dancers
of southern Tanzania interpret the music and performances the tribes
have inherited from their ancestors, or just go to the coast to
sense the history of the Swahili people of coastal Tanzania.
And for the visitors who want to meet fishermen, cultivators, local
minors, wildlife scouts, rainmakers and story-tellers, the land
between Serengeti and Lake Victoria is the place to be.
There is more in the cultural tourism programmes of Tanzania!