Tanzania is endowed with a wide variety of natural and cultural attractions. Visits to national parks, including the world famous Serengeti and Kilimanjaro National Park, have always been a main component of tours to Tanzania. In the past two decades, cultural excursions in different areas of the country have also become an increasingly important tourism activity. With initial technical assistance from the Netherlands Development Organisation SNV, since 1996, the Tanzania Tourist Board has managed the Cultural Tourism Progamme, supporting and promoting local cultural tourism enterprises that provide tourism facilities and excursions to tourists.
In its first ten years of operation, the Cultural Tourism Programme managed to establish a network of 25 cultural tourism enterprises, mainly in the northern part of Tanzania with a focus on guided walking tours through attractive rural areas and villages. From 2008 to 2014, UNWTO collaborated with the Tanzania Tourist Board to implement a ST-EP project with the objective to enhance and diversify the cultural tourism offer in the country, and increase visitor spending and benefits for rural communities. The project was implemented with financial and technical support from the UNWTO ST-EP Foundation and the Netherlands Development Organization SNV.
Over a period of six years, 32 additional cultural tourism enterprises have been established in different parts of the country, offering a wide variety of new tourism activities, such as cycling tours, canoe tours, local cuisine workshops and traditional music performances. On a regular basis, training seminars were organized, building the capacity of 467 local people on topics as tour guiding, business management, customer care and handicraft production.
Through successful marketing activities, including the preparation and dissemination of brochures, the development of a website (http://tanzaniaculturaltourism.go.tz/), and the organization of familiarisation tours, the number of tourists visiting the cultural tourism enterprises grew from 35,000 in 2007 to 70,000 in 2013. By 2014, an estimated number of 3,000 local people generate a direct income from the cultural tourism enterprises, and each enterprise makes arrangements that a part of the tourist income is used for community development purposes in the village, e.g. to improve primary schools or health centres, provide a community water tap, or renovate irrigation systems. Tourists and tour operators also regularly make significant additional voluntary contributions to these development initiatives.
With the continued support from the Tanzania Tourist Board, the Cultural Tourism Programme offers a bright future for creating mutual understanding and friendships between tourists and local people, offering tourists from all over the world the possibility to experience Tanzania’s cultural diversity and providing local people in various rural areas the opportunity to build sustainable livelihoods from developing and managing cultural tourism enterprises.