Why American tourists are flocking in

Tanzania is the most popular destination for American tourists, according to a new report. 

CheapOair.com says in an online report that inexpensive air fares and unique attractions have boosted Tanzania’s popularity as a preferred tourist destination among visitors from the US and other rich countries.

Followed by Turkey, Malaysia, Vietnam and Ecuador, Tanzania has seen tourist bookings increase by nearly 50 per cent in the first half of this year compared to the same period last year with the cost of a return ticket falling by six per cent.

The Tanzania Tourist Board welcomed the new developments.

“We are very pleased with this development. The competitiveness of tourist destinations are largely determined by the cost of travel and accommodation,” Tanzania Tourist Board Aloyce Nzuki Managing Director told The Citizen.

The findings of the survey complements a study by The New York Times in 2011, which ranked Tanzania as the best safari destination in the world.

According to the CheapOair survey, the popularity of Mount Kilimanjaro was also pivotal in drawing more tourists to the country.

CheapOair’s travel specialists indicated in the survey that customers not only take advantage of airfare deals to exotic destinations but also maximize the time they spend there.

“For example, visitors to Tanzania can explore the Serengeti or spend a few days on the beaches in Zanzibar. Similarly tourists to Ecuador can travel to the Galapagos Islands, world renowned for their unique wildlife,” said the report. Tanzania received 1,043,000 tourists last year who brought in $1.56 billion.

“In the US, we’ve only got a couple of weeks vacation each year and, if the price is not dramatically different from something closer, people figure: Why not go?” said Mr Chris Cuddy, Chief Commercial Officer at CheapOair.

Tanzania has cheap flights because of much competition from more than four airlines that bring visitors from the US and Europe. Airlines that currently connect the US and Tanzania includes South African airways, Qatar, Turkish Airlines and many others.

But money is not the only motivator. There is also the appeal of the unknown. “Each of these five destinations have all got some combination of culture and physical geography, or ancient language and striking landscape, that makes people think they’re ‘really’ going away for a trip,” Mr Cuddy said. “We don’t have a Tanzania equivalent in the US.”

Round trip flights from New York City to Dar es Salaam, according to the survey are being offered at $1,112 on Turkish Airlines, which is also selling trips to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, for $889, according to CheapOair.com figures. But tourists might opt for Tanzania after taking into consideration the uniqueness of its attractions.
Dr Nzuki said the report’s findings presented an opportunity for growth.

“We regard this as potential for tourism growth in the country because, as you might be aware, the government has been trying to increase the number of US tourists visiting the country, Dr Nzuki noted.

Measures taken include trying to convince US airlines to fly directly to Tanzania, but it has been difficult because of security concerns.

Dr Nzuki said the fact that more airlines were offering cheaper flights from the US to Tanzania was welcome.

“Previously we had only one airline, KLM, that flew tourists from the US to Kilimanjaro International Airport, but we now have more airlines bringing visitors to KIA,” he said.

For his part Tourism Confederation of Tanzania chairman Richard Rugimbana said: “Tanzania has been recognised several times for doing well in this sector. It is the responsibility of tourism markets to use this as an opportunity to showcase what other countries haven’t been blessed with by ensuring peace and security for our visitors.”

Cheaper flights to tourist destinations are important because most of the travels are done by air. The World Tourism Organisation said in its recent report that in 2012, travel for holidays, recreation and types of leisure accounted for just over half of all international tourist arrivals which was equivalent to 536 million arrivals.
Source: The Citizen, reported by Veneranda Sumila and Sturmius Mtweve from Dar es Salaam, Tanzania
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