Tourism officials and businesses from Dar es Salaam to Arusha have been trying to attract attention in advance of President Barack Obama’s visit to Africa.
Many African countries anticipate that Obama’s visit to Senegal, South Africa and Tanzania will encourage others to visit and translate into big bucks for African tourism.
Tourism stakeholders are looking at the official Obama tour of the continent as a kick-start to tap the rich American tourist market through publicity of his visit, according to a report at eTurbonews.com.
The U.S. is the No. 2 source of tourists to Tanzania after the U.K., according to the the Tanzania Tourist Board.
About 60,000 American tourists visit Tanzania every year, helping to push total visitors in 2012 above one million mark, a 24 percent increase from 2011, the report said.
The Tanzanian government credits its accommodations and infrastructure for helping push up the rate of visitors.
Trophy hunting in Tanzania has been attracting “rich U.S. tycoons,” mostly from Texas, and they are ranked among the highest-spending visitors, the report says. About 4,000 trophy hunters visit each year. Many of them go to the 21,236 square mile Selous Game Reserve. Americans in general are considered “high-quality and “high-spending tourists” in Tanzania, according to the report.
Mount Kilimanjaro, Ngorongoro Crater, and Serengeti National Park are the leading tourist destinations among Tanzania’s 16 national parks and 32 game reserves including the Olduvai Gorge where the skull of the earliest known human was discovered and Ruaha National Park, now the largest national park in Africa and Zanzibar, according to eTurbonews.com.
Big tourist hotels are expecting to reap the benefits of Obama’s entourage. During George Bush’s visit to Tanzania in 2008, all big hotels in Dar es Salaam were fully booked by Americans while tourists from other nationalities were diverted to small hotels and guest houses, the report said.
Obama’s Kenyan roots have also added excitement among Africans eager to see the first African-American president of the U.S., the report says.