Friday, July 21, 2017

Tanzania: $156m Plan to Boost Tourism in Ruaha, Selous

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Arusha: The government yesterday announced a $156 million (Sh340 billion) major plan to boost tourism in the southern circuit.

The plan, which will be financed by the World Bank (WB), will involve upgrading of roads leading to the iconic tourist sites in the zone, including the Ruaha National Park and Rungwa and Selous game reserves.

Under it, the local airlines would be encouraged to increase their fights to the Mbeya and Iringa airports currently being expanded. The huge swathe of land in the southern part of the country, where the largely virgin national park, game reserves and other natural attractions are found, have airstrips.

However, the minister did not say if dozens of airstrips and aerodromes in the zone will be included in the envisaged transport infrastructure development to be funded from the WB loan.

"We still have fewer visitors compared with the great attractions we have compared to many other countries," said the minister for Natural Resources and Tourism, Prof Jumanne Maghembe, when announcing measures to boost the sector. He revealed this here when inaugurating a Sh3.2 billion exhibition hall constructed by the Arusha International Conference Centre (AICC) to compliment its conference activities.

The minister said Tanzania received 1,250,000 tourists last year, noting that the figure sharply contrasted with the world famous tourist attractions the country have which range from wildlife parks, beaches and archaeological sites.

He challenged the AICC, a state run body under the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and East African Cooperation, to tap the potential of conference tourism which, according to him, generated $670 million (Sh1.4 trillion) to the economy last year.

Prof Maghembe promised that the government would give every necessary support to the Centre to secure an affordable land in Dodoma to enable it construct a convention centre in the envisaged capital. The minister revealed this when responding to an appeal by the chairman of the AICC board of directors, Dr Ladislaus Komba, to secure an affordable plot for its investment in Dodoma because the one shown to them would cost a whooping Sh2.4 billion.

"We are afraid we will reach a situation where land being sought for construction of buildings is more expensive than the investment structures," he said, noting that they have secured a 32-acre land.

AICC also plans to put up another convention centre in Iringa Region, which is slowly becoming a hub of tourism activities in the southern circuit. However, details of the proposed facility were not revealed. The minister emphasized that Arusha would continue to remain a major gateway for tourists from overseas most of them using the city as a transit to visit the national parks and other sites in the north.

However, he regretted that conference tourism has not been fully tapped in Tanzania due to lack of state-of-the-art conference facilities in the country and inadequate marketing overseas of the existing potential. The minister took time to castigate dishonest tour operators who are behind a conning racket for tourists from abroad who have pre-paid their bookings.

"These tourists pay for full packages in their respective countries but when they land here the tour agents are nowhere to be seen. Let us fight this," he fumed. He vowed that the government would have no mercy on those behind the racket because by so doing they were tarnishing the good image of Tanzania.

"I will not sleep until this mess is dealt with to its end and those responsible apprehended," Prof Maghembe told scores of tourism sector stakeholders who attended the opening of the exhibition hall.

AICC managing director Elishilia Kaaya said the new facility has targeted major conferences and meetings hosted there with exhibitions. Baptised Lake Nyasa Exhibition Hall, the facility can accommodate 2,000 people and 100 booths at one time.Social events and meetings would also be hosted in it.

Its viability was put to test during yesterday's inauguration which coincided with the opening of an exhibition on tourism and allied sectors. AICC, a parastatal created in the 1970s, had lacked a purposely-built exhibition halls despite hosting some of the largest international conferences ever since.

Mr Kaaya said this led to some cancellations of high profile meetings in the past. At times, some exhibitions have been squeezed in the open space in the middle of its three blocks or in the stalls erected in its parking yards.


AICC which was established in 1978 taking over the properties of the former East African Community (EAC) which broke in 1977. It is the leading landlord in Arusha. Besides,its landmark structure (conference centre), it has at least 650 residential units and recently built 48 apartments in town.

It is the leading conference venue in Tanzania owned by the government by 100 per cent but operating without receiving any subsidies. It has a total of 10 meeting rooms which cater for  conferences, workshops, seminars, and committee meetings, with a seating capacity of 10 to 1,000 delegates. Most of these rooms are equipped with Simultaneous Interpretation Systems (SIS) which can handle up to 12 languages.

Tanzania Named Best Africa Safari Destination

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Indisputably, Tanzania has been placed the Best Natural Tourist destination Africa by its best natural tourist attractions than other countries in the continent, pulling big numbers of travelers from all corners of the world.

According to international survey released this month (June) by the released yesterday by an online marketplace for African tours,, Tanzania has been voted overwhelmingly as the best safari destination in Africa, viewed as the ideal getaway for international tourists.

The survey which had involved 276 specialized safari operators, eight (8) major safari countries, 139 wildlife parks and reserves, 2,324user reviews, 756 expert reviews had so far placed Tanzania a number one best safari destination in Africa, said owner, The Netherlands-based Wouter Vergeer. conducted an extensive analysis of 3,061 reviews of over 1,000 tourists and travel experts who participated in a survey and concluded that both parties concurred Tanzania tops in the continent.

The country scored an average rating of 4.8 out of Five stars, the highest score of all eight major safari countries. Botswana and Kenya scored 4.7 each, followed by South Africa and Zambia which scored 4.6 each against Namibia’s 4.5 stars. Uganda took 4.2 against Zimbabwe’s 4.1 stars, Vergeer said.

Reputable guidebook authors from such renowned publications as “Frommer’s” and “Lonely Planet” teamed up to create a database of expert reviews which determined the many reasons Tanzania is the best safari destination country in the world.

“The reasons are simple: Two of Unesco’s World Heritage Sites, Serengeti National Park and Ngorongoro Crater, are located in Tanzania’s northern safari circuit. The Serengeti is home to the “great migration”, an event in which over 2.5 million zebra and wildebeest migrate annually,” said Vergeer.

“Experts and visitors voted Tanzania for it is a host to the best chimp tracking in Africa, and visitors can climb the highest mountain on the continent”, he added.

Visitors can enjoy authentic African wilderness without paved roads and fencing. There are safari options for any budget and holidays can be spent enjoying beach extensions on Zanzibar Island. Travel is simple, with direct access flights to the two major safari circuits. Tanzania is also a politically stable and safe country.

He noted that when breaking down the reviews, monthly ratings remained consistently high emphasizing the notion that tourists can safely visit Tanzania any time of the year. The team at Safari Bookings found it surprising that even the wet season received very positive ratings from experts and tourists.

According to Mr. Vergeer, the afternoon rains don’t typically hamper a Tanzanian safari, yet wildlife viewing in Tarangire, the southern and western circuit parks is considerably less rewarding during these times and could, therefore, lower ratings.

The reviewers responsible for collecting and analyzing data came from 53 nationalities; 42 percent were first time safari-goers, 37 per cent had been on over 5 safaris and 21per cent had taken two to five trips.

Ms Mary Fitzpatrick, a US-based author of six Lonely Planet guides to Africa, including Tanzania, writes: “With its abundant wildlife, excellent species diversity and evocative acacia- and baobab-studded landscapes, Tanzania is one of Africa’s most rewarding safari destinations.”

Mr. Philip Briggs from South Africa, an acclaimed travel writer and author of many guidebooks, including the “Brandt Guides to Uganda, Tanzania, Kenya and South Africa” rated Tanzania the highest possible score ” five stars. “There is arguably no better safari destination than Tanzania. And, to be honest, I’m not even sure I should be using the word “arguably” here! Tanzania’s superb network of wildlife reserves is the most extensive in Africa, collectively covering a quarter of the country’s surface area, and harboring around 20 per cent of the continent’s large mammal biomass,” he writes.

“It includes a well fed entourage of lion, cheetah, leopard, hyena plus various smaller predators and lynchpin of a northern safari circuit that also incorporates the superlative Ngorongoro Crater (the world’s largest intact volcanic caldera) and pretty Lake Manyara National Park, with its giant tuskers and tree-climbing lions,” adds Mr. Briggs.

In February of this year, Dr. Philip Imler, the Founder and President of the Texas based-Seven Natural Wonders announced the Serengeti National Park was voted a Number One Natural Wonder of Africa in a world -wide voting campaign to get the “Seven Natural Wonders of Africa”. Dr. Impler also announced Tanzania’s world-famous Mount Kilimanjaro, the tallest free-standing mountain in Africa, and the Ngorongoro Crater the second and third category top winners for Natural Wonders of Africa.

The contest to get Seven Natural Wonders on the African continent made Tanzania the only country in the continent to have the most winning nominations, which generated enormous prestige and publicity for Tanzania tourism.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Tanzania - 'Mountain of God' Volcano Preparing to Erupt

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An active volcano in northeastern Tanzania known to the Maasai as the “Mountain of God” has been quietly rumbling—and it is showing signs that an eruption is imminent.

Known as Ol Doinyo Lengai, the 7,650-foot-tall peak is the only known active volcano that belches out lava rich with a type of rock called carbonatite. This thin, silvery lava can flow faster than a person can run.

The volcano is some 70 miles from the city of Arusha and is known for its proximity to some of the world’s most important paleoanthropological sites. Ol Doinyo Lengai is less than 70 miles from the famed Olduvai Gorge, a collection of 3.6-million-year-old hominin footprints at a site called Laetoli, and a “dance hall” of ancient Homo sapiens footprints at a site called Engare Sero.

Typically, the volcano’s activity is confined to its summit. But occasionally, the Mountain of God can roar to life in more dramatic fashion: On September 4, 2007, the volcano belched out a plume of ash that extended at least 11 miles downwind. Lava running down the north and west flanks ignited burn scars that were visible from space.

D. Sarah Stamps, a geophysicist at Virginia Tech, has been partnering with local academics to try and predict the next major eruption. In June 2016, she and her colleagues installed five positioning sensors around Ol Doinyo Lengai in the hopes of tracking how magma’s underground churn is deforming the volcano’s surface.

In concert with Tanzania’s Ardhi University and South Korea’s KIGAM, Stamps has set up a monitoring system that collects data on the volcano’s activity in real time.

On January 17, 2017, Stamps saw a shudder in the data streaming from one monitoring station—a sign that, far from merely rumbling, parts of the volcano were lifting upward.

“Several subsequent signals were also seen in real-time with additional on-the-ground observations by our local technician,” Stamps says. “These signals prompted rapid responses by our team to install three new real-time stations”—a project funded by the National Geographic Society. (Since 2012, the National Geographic Society has committed more than $400,000 to researching volcanoes. Find out more.)

Based on the data they are seeing, Stamps and her colleagues warn that an eruption seems to be on the horizon.

“Imminent in our case means in one second, in a few weeks, a couple of months, or a year or more,” she says in an email.

“There are increased ash emissions, earthquakes, uplift at small volcanic cones, and an ever widening crack at the top of the volcano on the west side,” she adds. “These are all signs of volcanic deformation that will likely lead to an eruption sooner rather than later.”

Debris Dangers: 
Stamps notes that an eruption alone likely would not affect many of the nearby paleoanthropological sites, an opinion shared by Cynthia Liutkus-Pierce, an Appalachian State University geologist and National Geographic grantee who recently led an analysis of the Engare Sero footprints.

In an email sent from a site six miles from the volcano, Liutkus-Pierce reported that from her perspective, the volcano seemed calm, and the local Maasai did not appear overtly concerned about an eruption.

However, if a large eruption and a heavy rainy season were to coincide, the resulting debris flows could potentially harm Engare Sero and nearby sites, Liutkus-Pierce says.

“Historically, Lengai is capable of large debris flows and debris avalanches that reach the shore of Lake Natron, and these could potentially pose a significant threat to the site and to all of the camps that are here along the lake edge,” she says.

“I think that would be my biggest concern for this area—the potential for a debris flow or debris avalanche.”

As it happens, the Engare Sero footprints exist only because a similar scenario occurred between 5,000 and 19,000 years ago.

At that time, an influx of volcanic mud—washed off of Ol Doinyo Lengai’s flanks by rainfall created vast mudflats on the shoreline of Lake Natron that ancient humans trod across within hours to days of the event. A second surge of material then filled in the dried footprints, preserving them.

Liutkus-Pierce notes that even in a worst-case scenario, Engare Sero’s “dance hall” is staying alive. Her research team has photographed the footprints in high resolution and could re-create them—and even print them out—in 3D as needed.

“In that way,” she says, “we have essentially preserved the site in case of a natural disaster.”

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Ngorongoro: Tanzanian Conservancy Woos Asian Tourists with Eco-Tourism

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Arusha Tanzania's Ngorongoro Conservation Area Authority (NCAA) has embarked on a new venture aimed at promoting eco-tourism to woo more tourists.

NCAA's chief conservator Freddy Manongi said that the new drive is meant to lure more tourists to visit the UNESCO-recognized tourist site, located 180 km from Tanzania's northern safari capital of Arusha.

"Our interest is to diversify tourism products from wildlife to ecotourism, a tourism product which we believe will encourage more visitors," the official said.

"This time around, we want to encourage tourists from the Far East and Asian countries," Manongi said. "We've learnt there is a big market in China and Arab countries. Tourists from that area are interested in seeing rocks, antiquities and landscapes rather than wild animals, that's we're eyeing for the Asian market," the official said. Ngorongoro has paleontological and archaeological sites of Olduvai Gorge, Laetoli site, Lake Ndutu site and the Nasera Rock Shelter.

According to Manongi, the NCAA has already identified ecotourism products such as mountains, antiquities as well as geological sites, which are found in the sanctuary, which was established 58 years ago, as a multiple land-use area, designated to promote the conservation of natural resources, safeguard the interests of NCA indigenous residents and promote tourism.

"We're currently improving roads getting into those tourist sites."

He encouraged tour operators in the sanctuary to open up the new chapter and add the issue of eco-tourism in their menus. The variety and richness of the fossil remain, including those of early hominids, has made it one of the major areas in the world for research on the human evolution.

The area is now attracting more than 700,000 tourists annually and generating an average 32 million U.S dollars in revenue. Ngorongoro is a home to some 25,000 large animals, mostly ungulates, alongside the highest density of mammalian predators in Africa, including the densest population of lion. It also harbors a range of endangered species, such as the black rhino, wild hunting dog and golden cat and 500 species of birds.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Tanzania: Rare 'Baboon' Is Attracting Tourists in the North

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Arusha — Tanzania is home to seven of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) World Heritage sites and as days unfold, new tourism attractions are emerging.

It is a country with many tourist attractions and approximately 38 percent of its land area is set aside in protected areas for conservation. There are 16 national parks, 29 game reserves, 40 controlled conservation areas and tourism sector is growing rapidly.

In the Northern Zone of the country there are several national parks and one of them is Arusha National Park (ANAPA) that has, of late, developed a new tourist attraction in a white baboon that is drawing attention of onlookers.

The baboon was spotted in a troop of about 18 individuals that were normal, and all were feeding in a bush along alkaline Momela lakes in ANAPA that covers Mount Meru, a prominent volcano with an elevation of 4,566 meters in Arusha Region.

The baboon, as it is the case with others, is of the genus Papio. It was also seen drinking water from the lakes, delighting visitors who were lucky enough to catch a glimpse of him.

Tanzania National Parks (TANAPA) Corporate Communications Manager, Mr Pascal Shelutete says a very rare species of baboon has been spotted and photographed by tourists, roaming around Arusha National Park along with the rest of its troop who did not seem to be disturbed by his unusual color.

He says that although unusually colored individuals in the animal kingdom is mostly a survival disadvantage to it as families and social groups could exclude them because they look foreign, the said baboon in ANAPA is getting along well with others in the troop.

"Wild animals that are white instead of their normal color quickly capture attention and imagination of tourists who observe them. They stand out among other animals with normal color, especially the ones that blend into their surroundings.

Though these species are very different on the outside, they differ only in small ways on the inside," says Mr Shelutete. He notes that cells of the sighted baboon are incapable of making a pigment, which is normally a genetic condition and that rare baboons are not only the species only of wildlife with unusual color sighted in TANAPA.

He says that the white baboons have a greenish-grey coat covering their bodies. He sees hat tourists could increase their chance of discovering one of those rare oddities of nature by spending more time outdoors especially in national parks.

The condition results from partial loss of pigmentation, caused by a reduction in multiple types of pigment, not just melanin. This is not the first time that a baboon with leucine has been spotted in the wild.

In 2012, a white baby baboon was discovered and photographed in Zambia's Mfuwe Lodge in South Luangwa National Park.

A tourism stakeholder who has been touring national parks, ANAPA included, Mr John Anselm is of the view that while it is not unusual to see large groups of baboons in Tanzania's parks, it is a rare treat to see a white one.

He says that albino baboons, so to call, are not generally a common sight in the wild as they struggle to survive in an environment that favors blending in. Starkly contrasting the browns and greens of the bush, they are easily visible to roaming predators, making them an easy target.

"When they are young, the majority of parents would reject their albino babies or the group may choose to exclude the unfamiliar members altogether. This leaves them fending for themselves and severely limits their chances of survival," he says.

But luckily for safari goers, the young albino baboon was managing to survive against the odds and appears to be thriving. ANAPA environment and its small size makes it the ideal place to spot rare creatures that would generally otherwise be very difficult to discover.

The Momela lakes in ANA PA, where the baboon was spotted, are surrounded by a lush green rain-forest, which hosts the beautiful black and white colobus monkeys as well.

The olive baboon (Papio anubis) also called the Anubis baboon is the most wide-ranging of all baboons, being found in 25 countries throughout Africa. The park is small but varied with spectacular landscapes in three distinct areas.

In the west, the Meru Crater funnels the Jekukumia River; the peak of Mount Meru lies on its rim. Ngurdoto Crater in the southeast is grassland. The shallow alkaline Momella Lakes in the north-east have varying algal colors and are known for their wading birds.

Ms Emily Chan says the adorable baboon was spotted along with the rest of the troop who did not seem to notice its unusual fur colour. That it is not albino as such but has a condition called 'Leucism' that only affects the pigment in its skin and fur.

A British photographer, Mr Charlie Lynam and his partner, Emma Franklin managed to capture the baboon on camera. Mr Lynam (57), from Liverpool, says that he had no idea that white baboons existed.

"We were driving along on a game drive when I spotted what I thought was a goat in among the baboon troop,' he said. As I got closer I realized it was a white baboon. I was gobsmacked.

This was a first for me. I was determined to get some decent photos of the baboon but he was rather shy," says Mr Lynam The baboons, he says, were out foraging in the national park and the white baboon seemed at ease among the troop.

He unveils that there was a small dirt road about 500 meters ahead of them, so he decided to park there and sit it out. 'It worked; they became accustomed to my presence and just went about their business.

So I just clicked away. The white baboon was very much integrated with the troop and acting perfectly normally. This came totally out of the blue, I had no idea this white baboons existed," he says.

Existence of the white baboon near Mount Meru, the second highest peak in Tanzania after Mount Kilimanjaro, which is just 60 kilometres away and forms a backdrop to views from the park to the east, might mean more attraction to tourists, locals and foreign.

ANAPA lies on a 300-kilometre axis of Africa's most famous national parks, running from Serengeti and Ngorongoro Crater in the west to Kilimanjaro National Park (KINAPA) in the east.

The park is just a few kilometers north east of Arusha, though the main gate is 25 kilometers east of the city. It is also 58 kilometers from Moshi and 35 kilometers from Kilimanjaro International Airport (KIA).

Mr Shelutete says that the park has a rich variety of wildlife. Despite the small size of the park, common animals include giraffe, Cape buffalo, zebra, warthog, the black-and white colobus monkey, the blue monkey, flamingo, elephant, lion and many other African animals.

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Flydubai to Launch Kilimanjaro Flights in October

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From October 29, the relaunched service to the carrier’s third point in Tanzania, along with Dar es Salaam and Zanzibar, will see flydubai’s network in Africa expand to 12 destinations.

Flydubai began operations to Tanzania in 2014 and has seen a steady growth in passenger numbers. Kilimanjaro will be served with six flights a week three of which are via a stop in the capital, Dar es Salaam. In addition, the carrier will increase direct flights to Zanzibar from three to eight flights a week.

Commenting on the launch of flights, Ghaith Al Ghaith, chief executive officer of flydubai, said: “With the addition of the service to Kilimanjaro and more direct flights to Zanzibar, Flydubai will operate 14 flights a week, marking a 133 per cent increase in capacity to the market compared to the previous year. This is a healthy indication of the rising popularity of Tanzania as a preferred tourist destination and we are happy to be connecting the market to Dubai.”

Kilimanjaro International Airport is located between the regions of Kilimanjaro and Arusha in Northern Tanzania. The airport is the major gateway to the Kilimanjaro region, a main international tourism destination that includes Mount Kilimanjaro, Arusha National Park, Ngorongoro Crater and Serengeti National Park. Only a few international carriers operate to Kilimanjaro and flydubai will be the first airline to provide direct air links from the UAE.

“We are committed to opening up undeserved markets and flydubai’s service to Kilimanjaro will introduce more options for travel with a Business and Economy Class service, together with added cargo capacity available through our Cargo Division. We expect to see healthy flows of trade and tourism on this route from the GCC and Eastern Europe via our hub in Dubai,” said Sudhir Sreedharan, senior vice president commercial (GCC, Subcontinent and Africa).

Flydubai has seen a 3.5 per cent increase in passengers numbers travelling between the UAE and Africa in 2016 compared to 2015, a positive record for this emerging market.

Flydubai has built up a comprehensive network in Africa with flights to Addis Ababa, Alexandria, Asmara, Djibouti, Entebbe, Hargeisa, Juba, Khartoum and Port Sudan, as well as Dar es Salaam, Kilimanjaro and Zanzibar. The 12 points will be served with more than 80 weekly flights for the summer period.

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

East Africa: Travel - Unleashing Tourism Potential At Karibu Fair

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Over 290 travel trade exhibitors from the East African region and beyond participated in the Karibu Travel & Tourism Fair which ended last Sunday in Arusha.

The Karibu fair gives travel and tourism stakeholders a great opportunity to showcase tourism products and services to buyers and visitors from across the region, African continent and the world.

Arusha is Tanzania's tourist hub located near world-class tourism wonderlands such as Serengeti National Park, Mount Kilimanjaro, the rooftop of Africa and Ngorongoro Crater among many others.

Karibu Fair, which is one of the largest travel trade fairs in East Africa, in its 18th year organised by the Tanzania Association of Tour Operators (TATO) was held from May 26 to 28.

The exhibitors included Tanzania's ministry of natural resources and tourism with its conservation and marketing, hoteliers, tour operators, travel agents, airlines, car dealers and tourism service providers.

They showcased wildlife safari and beach, culture and heritage, hotels, lodges and tented camps among others. These spent days connecting and discussing business deals.

Mr Sirili Akko, executive secretary of the tour operators umbrella organisation TATO said, "It was indeed a successful event which brought under one roof policy makers and tourism practitioners from the East African region and the world."

The TATO official said that his association used the event and forum to advance the tourism industry interest to decision makers. The slogan for this year's event was Sustainable Tourism for Development.

"We are riding on our current positive image the country is enjoying globally to reaffirm our position as the preferred tourist destination. But there are some of the pertinent issues in the country which need the intervention of the government and other stakeholders," Akko said.

Trade visitors and exhibitors were not short of entertainment as those who enjoy camel riding had an opportunity of being on short safari within the Magereza grounds. Mkuru camel safari which has pioneered the camel safaris in the north of Tanzania provided the noble safari to clients.

The Maasai people who stand as one of Tanzania's living culture were also part of the entertainment at the Karibu Fair. The group of traditional Maasai dancers was staged by Engaresero Eramarata cultural tourism.

Catherine Lyamuya an official from the Tanzania Tourist Board (TTB) in Arusha commended the dedication and work done by several cultural tourism enterprises (CTEs) across the country.

" We now have 66 registered CTEs and 105 are in progress. Their registration is awaiting the fulfillment of procedural requirements, which is at different stages."

Cultural tourism activities which are now scattered across the country are helping communities to improve their livelihood and be the custodian of the cultural and heritage properties in their areas.

The Tanzania cultural tourism programme booth which this year was attended by Engaresero Eramatare, Meru forest eco-tourism, Mkuru camel safaris, Mto wa Mbu, Mulala and Tengeru CTEs. Their participation, according to Catherine was preceded by a marketing training which was conducted by volunteers from Uniterra Canada. Elizabeth Matte and Reenar Mohamed both volunteers from Uniterra are attached to the Tanzania Cultural Tourism Programme under the TTB.

Mr Amasi Mwangobole who traveled from Uyole Mbeya to take part in the Karibu Fair was hopeful that the southern region of Tanzania will also benefit from the trade fair.

"We are also here in Arusha to enhance our partnership with tour operators and travel agents from the region and beyond."