Module Twenty Six, Activity Three

Tourism, the Economy, and Development in Tanzania


In this module’s previous activities, the role of tourism in Tanzania has been a recurring theme. Tourism is increasingly important in Tanzania’s economy and a number of internationally known tourist destinations are located in Tanzania. Due to increasing investments in the tourist industry and the growing numbers of tourists to the country, the Tanzanian government and people must examine the impacts, both positive and negative, that tourism can have on their society, environment, and economic development. This lesson will discuss different types of tourism taking place in Tanzania and the conditions that encourage or discourage tourism. Each section considers the impacts of these various types of tourism on the environment, local populations and national and local economies, including the potential tradeoffs between positive and negative outcomes of a growing tourist industry.


In this lesson you will meet the following people. Some are foreign tourists visiting Tanzania, and some are native Tanzanians who are working or training to work in the tourist industry:


Vickie is an American service tourist working in Tanga


Amina is a Tanzanian chef who works in the hospitality industry in Zanzibar


Richard is a British adventure tourist visiting Mt. Kilimanjaro and Pemba


Joseph is a Tanzanian attending safari school in the city of Arusha


Nick is an American tourist visiting his girlfriend in Tanzania


Ndele is a Tanzanian who manages a hotel in Dar-es-Salaam


Bastian is a German citizen exploring Tanzania as an alternative tourist

As you read these peoples’ stories, think about the following questions:                        

For tourists: What are the different priorities and desires that motivated these tourists to visit Tanzania?

For workers in Tourism: How does employment in the tourist industry vary from occupation to occupation? Do all Tanzanians have an equal opportunity to work in tourism?

History of tourism:

Tourism, or the phenomenon of short-term travel to destinations other than where the tourist resides and works, as an activity, is relatively new. While there is evidence that coastal resorts for “tourists” existed as far back as the era of the Roman Empire, the terms tourist and tourism were first used officially by the League of Nations in 1937. Tourism in Africa as an industry did not emerge until after the end of colonialism. During the colonial period wealthy Europeans may have traveled to the continent to experience what was then perceived as the “exotic” landscapes of Africa, however, most Europeans who visited the country did not come on short-term trips. The difficulty of travel during that time period and the health risks to Europeans in Africa made short-term trips impractical.

Certain conditions need to be in place for tourism to occur.

First, there must be tourists—that is people, usually with disposable income, who have time off from work and responsibilities and who, of course, have the desire to travel.

Second, infrastructure must be in place to support tourism. This infrastructure includes reliable modes of transportation, legal clearance to travel, and lodging at the site of tourist activity.

Activity: Write a paragraph (three to five sentences) answering the following question:

What do you know about tourism in Tanzania (from previous lessons, from the media, from personal experiences, or from other sources)?

Challenging the Stereotypes of Tourism

President Theodore Roosevelt on safari in East Africa, 1909
EH 266T  Ernest Hemingway poses with a water buffalo in Africa, 1953-1954.  Photograph in the Ernest Hemingway Photograph Collection, John F. Kennedy Presidential Library, Boston.
Ernest Hemingway poses with a water buffalo in Africa, 1953-1954. Photograph in the Ernest Hemingway Photograph Collection, John F. Kennedy Presidential Library, Boston.

70 percent of the African population is under 30 years old, and the World Bank predicts that by 2030, half of all Africans will live in large cities. African populations are young and its cities rapidly urbanizing, and as a whole, Africa is one of the fastest developing continents on the planet. Yet often when we see tourist images of Africa they contain wild animals or depictions village life and people in traditional dress. Why are we not shown the big cities that are so much a part of most Africans’ daily lives? Or why don’t we see the people in the village dressed in jeans or using cell phones? The reason for this is complicated, but it has much to do with our own relationship to and ideas about Africa, as well as those of the colonial powers that used to govern much of the continent. Because tourism plays such a huge role in establishing and replicating these images, it is important to address why Africans themselves may not agree with the images sold to tourists.

In Module Seven (B) and Module Ten, you learned about some of the legacies that colonial governments leave behind, even after their dissolution. We know from historical sources non-African colonial officials and explorers writing back home often wanted to preserve an image of Africa that justified their presence on the continent. Focusing on “untamed” natural scenery or depictions of poverty and war helped many of these individuals convince themselves that their actions were warranted because Africans “needed their help.” Meanwhile, going to Africa was seen as a romantic adventure--to the point where people visiting Africa could often send photographs of themselves home to be published in their local newspapers. Visitors drew upon the same imagery, as did the plays and novels that began to use Africa as their settings.

Take the following example: the photographs above are some of our most iconic images of African tourism. The first depicts President Theodore Roosevelt’s 1910 safari tour in Africa, which he undertook in the aftermath of stepping down from office after hearing how rewarding these experiences had been for colonial government officials needing a break from their “office” job. Roosevelt’s tour produced a series of carefully-curated images like the one above, of Roosevelt posing over a recent kill. Many suspected he was using the trip as a way to prepare the American public for a comeback in his political career. Over a decade later, author Earnest Hemmingway went to Africa for a three month safari inspired by the stories he heard about Roosevelt’s journey, and repeated that trip again in the 1950’s, during which he posed for the second photograph above. Hemmingway’s writings of his travels inspired many Americans to visit Africa, each in turn expecting a safari like the ones he had described. In each of these cases, the tourist’s expectation is to land in Africa and go on safari, because conquering dangerous nature and animals was the image preserved by the person who was there before them. Even in our current state of worldwide interconnectedness, this pattern continues today—it is   often the images of untamed scenery, rural life, and sometimes even poverty, that entice tourists to visit the continent.

Like in the rest of Africa, the majority of Tanzanians are young people who either live in or plan to live in vibrant growing cities. As you move forward with this module, keep in mind that while many Tanzanians view tourism as a way to share the beauty of their country, many also feel the need to challenge the prevalent images of Tanzania as a “wild” and ancient place in need of conservation and rescue by outsiders. Throughout this activity you will see the phrase “challenging stereotypes” to indicate the specific concerns young Tanzanians express about a particular tourist activity.

Section 1: Types of Tourism 

Below are descriptions of various types of tourism. This is not a comprehensive list of tourism types and various sources, organizations, and people use different terms to define different kinds of tourism. This list is just meant to serve as a starting point for understanding that tourist activities can take different forms depending on the infrastructure available at the site of tourism, the amount of money and resources that governments, businesses and tourists are willing to invest in tourist activities, and the personal preferences of the tourists themselves.

  1. Mass Tourism—This form of tourism transports large numbers of people in a short space of time to places of leisure or interest. Mass tourism includes overseas all-inclusive packaged tours offered by many organizations as well as tourism to resorts built especially for tourist populations. Cruises can also be classified within this category.

This type of tourism makes it easier for tourists to travel abroad since the trip is largely organized for them, however, one trade-off is the limited interaction tourists have with the inhabitants of the place they visit. It can be harder for local economies to benefit from mass tourism if the tourists’ activities, accommodation, food and transport are provided by large companies. Mass tourism can also have a damaging effect on the environment because a large number of people might require movement over long distances with boats or airplanes and accommodation in big hotels or resorts once they arrive. Additionally, building a large hotel or resort in a beautiful location can involve environmentally damaging practices like deforestation. You can learn more about how tourism affects the environment of East Africa in the second activity of Module Nineteen in the Regional Perspectives Unit.

One location in Tanzania where mass tourism takes place is the island of Zanzibar. Zanzibar’s beautiful beaches attract over 80,000 tourists from foreign countries every year, many of whom are experiencing Zanzibar as part of a mass tourism package. In 2010, it was estimated that over sixty large-scale resorts lined Zanzibar’s beaches offering complete packages for tourists, some of which make it possible to get everything one needs—food, lodging, and entertainment—without ever having to leave the resort. This tiny island even has its own airport to meet tourist demand. While mass tourist activity has definitely been important to Zanzibar’s economy by providing an estimated 20,000 jobs, Zanzibar’s inhabitants worry about the effect which mass tourism is having on their unique culture and environment. The marine environment of Zanzibar from which most of its residents make their living is of particular concern, as aspects of mass tourism like overcrowding and pollution destroy some marine species’ habitats.

Amina’s Story:

Amina 2

Q and A:

Q: What kind of work do you do in the tourist industry, and how did you get involved?

A: I am a chef at a resort in Zanzibar. The resort was built ten years ago by Italian business people. Many years ago, as a young woman, I worked in a very large British hotel in Stonetown. They brought their own chef from England because they didn’t trust Zanzibaris to cook their food, so I started working there as a house cleaner. One day when the chef became sick and returned home, I left my housecleaning post and continued cooking his food. The guests never noticed!

Q: What kind of training or preparation did you have to have to get this job?

A: Because I had worked in a British hotel I already knew how to cook British food, but this resort where I work now keeps people from all over the world who want different foods. The boss agreed to lend me money to go to culinary school to learn more types of cooking. I spent three months in Dar-es-Salaam getting a certificate, and I was the oldest person in the class!

Q: What cultural differences do you see between Zanizbaris and the tourists who come to your resort? When you first started working here, did anything surprise you?

A: The food tourists eat is very different from ours. They eat a lot of meat and they don’t like so much spice—which is unfortunate because here in Zanzibar we have the best spices in the world. I used to be surprised by how much alcohol tourists drink, even at lunch, but I am used to that now. When I moved from a hotel in town to a resort on the beach I was shocked because people here don’t feel the need to wear many clothes, and they want to lay in the sun even when it is hot outside. Some families in the next village don’t allow their children to go near this part of the beach because they will see women without much clothing. Also, all of us speak English, but tourists are not able to learn Swahili because it is too difficult for them.

Activity: After hearing Amina’s story and having learned about the religions, cultures, and economic activities of Zanzibar in Activity One of this module, write a list of the concerns which the Zanzibari people could have about mass tourist activity on their island. Discuss the following with a classmate:

Which of the concerns on your list do you think would apply to the most people on Zanzibar and why?

Activity: Getaway travel is a South African website offering mass tourism packages to Zanzibar. Explore some of the travel packages and answer the following:

What similarities (if any) do you find in these vacation plans?

What attributes of Zanzibar are offered the most often to tourists?

Do you think it’s possible for the hotels and activities in these packages to be representative of Zanzibari culture? If not, what could the tours offer to bring more local activity and culture to mass tourists?

  1. Adventure/Eco Tourism—In general, this type of tourism includes adventure and exploratory activities that occur in nature and other settings. Common activities are mountain climbing and mountain biking, scuba diving, parachuting, bunjee jumping, and parasailing. In Tanzania, the three most common adventure tourism activities are mountain climbing, scuba diving, and safaris. Mt. Kilimanjaro, Mt. Meru, and the Usambara Mountains are the three most popular climbing/trekking destinations. Mt. Kilimanjaro is the highest mountain in Africa and is located in Mt. Kilimanjaro National Park. Climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro is an especially strenuous activity. Every year, 35,000 tourists attempt to climb for five to nine days in small groups accompanied by porters, cooks, and guides. Even with good weather conditions and the help of expert guides, less than half of all climbers actually reach the summit. During safaris, visitors drive around National Parks to take photographs of the landscape and wildlife. Safaris are an old tradition dating back to the late 1800s, and can last anywhere from one afternoon to two weeks. Safari circuits are clusters of parks that tourists like to visit together to take in a range of different types of scenery and wildlife. Tens of thousands of tourists each year visit Tanzania’s national parks. Additionally, some of the best scuba diving in the world is available off the coasts of Zanzibar and Pemba, and Tanzania has over thirty facilities offering scuba diving certifications. There are designated diving sites that separate where tourists learn how to dive in groups with a certified teacher, and where they are allowed to dive in smaller groups (usually two people) without a teacher. While safaris and mountain climbing rely on many local experts, few Tanzanians know how to scuba dive, and the vast majority of diving instructors are foreigners.

A) Adventure Tourism is a good source of revenue for the country. In 2013, the revenue from climbs up Mt. Kilimanjaro alone comprised 13% of the country’s gross domestic product and supported 400 guides, 10,000 porters, and 500 cooks. Local populations also benefit from the industry—the region of Tanzania surrounding Mt. Kilimanjaro has the highest rates of high school enrollment and adult literacy in the country. However, these perks do not come without costs to the environment and the people working on the mountain. A 2013 study of climbing conditions on Mt. Kilimanjaro revealed that a number of slopes exhibit environmental degradation resulting in dangerous working conditions for porters and guides. National Parks are primarily funded by money collected from entry fees, but it is still not enough to provide complete protection from poaching. The amount of traffic in national parks has to be carefully controlled to minimize environmental damage and risk to wildlife. Too much activity around coral reefs can damage them beyond repair, and there are already entire tracts of dead coral off the Zanzibari coast. Additionally, scuba diving traffic keeps local fishermen from being able to fish in some of the most viable areas and pushes them further out to sea where fishing is more dangerous and less lucrative. The number of fish in these areas is also often depleted because of the resultant concentration of fishermen.

B) Ecotourists take the possible environmental damage described above into special consideration when making their travel plans. Ecotourists seek out tourist destinations that are as untouched as possible, and take extra measures to minimize environmental damage. For example, ecotourists in Tanzania are more likely to take public transportation and snorkel than take taxis and scuba dive. That’s because taxis and scuba diving are more likely to be damaging to the environment than snorkeling and public transportation. This action is called low-impact sightseeing.

Challenging Stereotypes: Experiencing the nature of another land is a fun and educational experience, but is it always beneficial to all parties? Environmental conservation is a concern for people around the globe, and many foreigners who come to Tanzania as tourists build a particular association with its national parks—they see Tanzania primarily as a home for animals who can live nowhere else in the world. For this reason, there are times in which the entire international community involves itself in discussions about land use and appropriation in national parks, even though Tanzania is technically a sovereign country with the right to use its land in whatever ways it sees fit.

What if the situation were reversed? Imagine that one morning the director of Yellowstone National Park announces a proposal that a small piece of land from the park be set aside for mining. Within hours of making her announcement, the director is inundated with calls of outrage from Africans who have visited the park. The director is offended, not by the concern these African tourists express but by the way they express it—the Africans tell her they know that the proposal will bring in money and be helpful to local populations, but they are afraid that she doesn’t understand how important the piece of land is that she’s giving up.

In some sense, the safari tourism industry profits from an old stereotype established during the colonial era: the idea that Africans are incapable of understanding the importance of their own natural environments and need someone to do it for them. Attempting to preserve a piece of land in its “wildest” or “untamed” state so that thousands of people a day can come see it is a difficult feat for any country, including the United States. Some Tanzanians are calling for safaris to be conducted in ways that challenge this stereotype, such as including equal numbers of local and foreign tourists on the trail.

Activity: Mapping Exercise: Below you see two maps. Both are maps of Tanzania’s national parks.

What differences do you see in the two maps? In the map keys?

Which map do you think an ecotourist would use? Why?   


safari parks



Richard’s Story: 

Richard 2                

Richard is an adventure tourist who has lived and traveled all over the world. Last summer, Richard spent two weeks in Tanzania to climb Mt. Kilimanjaro and scuba dive off the coasts of Pemba and Zanzibar.

Q and A:

Q: How did you first hear about Tanzania?

A: I've known about Tanzania for a long time. I have always liked hiking, and Mt. Kilimanjaro had been on my list of peaks for ages. I’m not sure how I first heard about it—probably a travel magazine or a friend’s story from my youth.

Q:What convinced you that Tanzania would be a good place to pursue adventure tourism?

A: Mt Kilimanjaro and scuba diving off Zanzibar, great combination! Plus it's safer than other locations in Africa right now.

Q: How did find the information to make your plans? Did you feel well prepared for the experience?

A: Whenever I backpack I use Lonely Planet, it helps to situate you to routes, locations and things to do. I also used the internet to plan the hike. I do not book anything before I go, I prefer to meet the people and organize things on the ground.

Q: In your experience, how is climbing/scuba diving in Tanzania different than in other places you've been?

A: I thought both experiences were good. The guides were excellent, well trained and eco-conscious. The mountain was well preserved and didn't have piles of rubbish unlike the Everest region. Scuba diving on Pemba was good, but Zanzibar was disappointing; too many divers on the same site. If they opened up more sites it would spread people out and stop overcrowding and damage to the coral.

Q: Is there anything you wish you had known about Tanzania before you chose to travel there?

A: Not really, I'm pretty good at finding fun things to do and thinking on my feet!

Joseph’s story:

Joseph 2

 Joseph is in training to become a safari guide and tour operator at a safari school in Arusha

Q and A:

Q: What has been your safari school experience thus far? Was there anything you encountered in safari school that you didn’t expect?

A: There were many things I hadn’t anticipated. Safari school is rigorous, and physically demanding, and those are things I had prepared myself for. But I had not realized how much foreign language I would need—we are required to learn the names of animals and plants in many languages, as well as being able to have basic conversations in English. I have also had to be trained in emergency aid.

Q: What are you looking forward to after finishing safari school?

A: I am excited to meet new people and to show them the wonderful things that Tanzania has to offer. I feel like the world often does not understand how great our place is. I want to see the look on tourists’ faces when they see things they’ve never seen before. That’s how I will know that I’ve done my job well.

Q: What has been the most difficult subject you have studied so far in safari school?

A: The language requirements are very hard for me. I finished high school with some English language training, but I didn’t expect how much I would still have to learn!

Q: Have you discovered anything surprising in your training?

A: I learned that many people who go on safaris are Tanzanians, and not only tourists. Sometimes we get school classes and the children love to see the animals! We also learned more about poaching, which I find very sad. There is unfortunately not much to do about poaching because there are so few guards and our parks are so big.

Activity: Visit the Wayo Africa Website, where Joseph is attending school to get his guide training, and answer these questions:

What type of certification is offered by this program?

How much is the tuition?

What animals and plants do guides learn about in the course?

What other skills do students learn in the course?

Given the information above, do you think anyone in Tanzania would be able to attend this school?

  1. Alternative Tourism: While all kinds of tourists wish to experience something different or new, alternative tourists pay special attention to the environment and the people of the place they are visiting. Often, an alternative tourist may have special requirements for the tourism activities they pursue. For example, they may place emphasis on things like only using small, local businesses in their destination, making sure that the food they eat and things they see are authentic to the area, or making sure that their presence in Tanzania is beneficial to locals in some way. In this lesson, we will focus on two types of alternative tourism: educational tourism, and service tourism.

A) Educational tourism is a kind of tourism that emphasizes learning experiences about the culture of the place you visit. Educational tourism in Tanzania includes visiting historical sites through heritage tours, learning Swahili, taking local dance, drumming, or cooking lessons; or learning local handicrafts like basket weaving and beading. Homestays where tourists stay in the homes of local residents and learn about the culture, and industry tours where tourists learn about different types of farming and industry that are unique to Tanzania. Some examples of industry touring include touring sisal plantations and spice plantations. Music tours explore Dar-es-Salaam’s nightlife by touring venues where different types of music are played. You also learned about this type of tourism when you read about heritage tourism in activity three of the Ghana module.

Challenging Stereotypes: In general, educational tourism is seen as one of the more respectful ways to learn about another country, but it also presents a danger. As is the case with “untouched nature,” tourism that relies too heavily on “authentic” ways of life that few or no people follow is attempting to crystallize a reality that no longer exists.

Imagine you came across a travel brochure advertising a “real” American travel experience in your town. The tour would would include a long horse ride accompanied by cowboys in full western gear, and would end with a night of cooking over a campfire and sleeping on furs under the stars. That would sound like a romantic getaway, but is it really an “authentic” way of American life? Would someone who went on this tour return home with a real understanding of how Americans live and what is important to them? Even more importantly, by portraying Americans as backward people who ride horses and sleep outside instead of drive cars and sleep in homes, what kind of image is this tour creating, and what type of stereotype might this tour be perpetuating?

Bastian’s Story:

Bastian 2

Bastian is an alternative tourist. His aim is to learn as much as he can about Tanzanian cultures, languages, and food while he is in the country.

Q and A:

Q: What types of activities have you pursued as an alternative tourist in Tanzania?

A: I have done a lot of traveling with trains and public transportation. I visited Zanzibar and took a tour of a spice plantation, where we learned about different kinds of spices and got to eat local dishes cooked by women in the village. I trekked the Usambara mountains with a local guide who placed me in a home stay for each night we were traveling, and I also spent two weeks at a language school learning some basic Swahili. The school offered drumming and dancing courses. I am hoping to use the knowledge I’ve gained to come back and volunteer some day.

Q: In your experience, how does educational tourism benefit tourists and locals?

A: As tourists, when we engage in this type of tourism I think we gain a knowledge and familiarity with other cultures that other tourists don’t get. For me, the experience was great—I made friends with people I have nothing in common with. I also like the fact that the type of tourism I do benefits local Tanzanians.

Q: Is there anything you found difficult about your experience?

A: The level of poverty here is different than I’ve experienced in Germany, and it’s been hard for me to get used to. I also think that some of these activities might increase Western stereotypes about Africans—many Tanzaninas now live in cities and they do not practice traditional music and dance. I think combining educational activities with urban life, like in Dar-es-Salaam or Arusha, can offer a more realistic picture of everyday life here.

Activity: Below are the websites for two different education/cultural tourism facilities. One is in the city of Arusha, in the northern mountains, and the other is in the city of Pangani on the coast. Explore these websites and answer the following questions:

What types of educational activities do these tours offer, and what are the differences you see?

What do these differences tell you about the local cultures where the tours are offered? What does it tell you about diversity in Tanzania?

B) Service Tourism:

Service tourism combines other types of tourism like those described above with a period of volunteer work. Volunteers typically pursue work in which they already have a specialty. This might include things like vocational or school teaching including language and computer lessons, building computer labs or libraries, conducting medical care in hospitals and clinics, participating in reforestation and conservation efforts, and contributing to a various range of development projects.

In Tanzania, service tourism mainly occurs in the fields of elementary education, medical care, and development projects. The primary benefits of these types of tourism are the benefits that local communities receive through volunteers, and the cultural understanding and perspective that tourists gain from working in conditions that they are not used to.

Challenging Stereotypes: While many Tanzanians are grateful for these volunteers, others worry about the impact that too much foreign volunteer activity might have on the country. These individuals worry about establishing a system in which Tanzanians depend upon outside sources for education, medical care, and development. Some Tanzanians also take issue with the cultural impact of consistent exposure to Western forms of education and medicine, and emphasize that in the presence of such volunteers Tanzanians should be balanced with their own language, teachings, and medical practices.

Activity: Below is a website offering volunteer opportunities in Tanzania. Browse the website and answer the following questions:

World Unite Volunteer Tourism

Name three types of volunteer activities the organization offers.

Name two benefits that you think volunteers and Tanzanians might receive from these activities.

Name two concerns that you think Tanzanians might raise about these activities.

Part 2: Conditions for Tourism

Group Activity: Tourism Brainstorm

Divide your class into four random groups. Each group chooses one group member to be the scribe, and another to be the timer. Read all the directions for the brainstorming task below. Then give your group five minutes to complete the task together. The scribe and the timer should also participate in the brainstorming.

Brainstorm 1: Conditions for Tourism in the United States

Think of a major international tourist destination in the United States. In five minutes, write as much as you can to describe the conditions for tourism in that place. Use the following questions as guidelines for your description: How do people from all over the world hear about this place? How do they get there? Once they arrive, where do they stay, what do they eat, and how do they communicate? What kinds of infrastructure are available at this tourist destination that make it easy for people from many different countries to enjoy it? Importantly, what does the destination offer in terms of activities—sightseeing, recreation, entertainment, etc.?

Below are five themes that represent different kinds of tourism infrastructure in Tanzania. Assign one theme to each group. Now, read your group’s theme and skip down to complete Brainstorm 2, located at the end of the section.

Theme 1: Knowledge of the Destination

It is important to recognize that tourist destinations are often inadvertently advertised. We learn about other places that we might want to see through the settings of books, films, and people who move in and out of our lives. One might get the idea of visiting Tanzania by reading a book or seeing a movie in which the characters go on safari or climb Mt. Kilimanjaro. Also, Tanzanians live and work all over the world. This fact increases the possibility that tourists may come to Tanzania to visit friends or complete programs to study Tanzania’s language, culture, and environment. Tourism sites in Tanzania and the services available for travel there are also advertised through media and word of mouth in languages all over the world. Tourist agencies with partners in Tanzania advertise its major tourist destinations, like Ngorongoro National Park, Zanzibar, and Mt. Kilimanjaro. These agencies then communicate with their Tanzanian partners to arrange tourist travel, accommodation, and activities. Additionally, international airlines that fly into Dar-es-Salaam, Arusha, and Zanzibar are some of Tanzania’s major sources of tourist advertising.

Theme 1 Examples:

Advertising Video:

Activity: The youtube video below was made by the Tanzanian Board of Tourism to advertise tourism in Tanzania.

T. (2009, October 20). Retrieved from

Watch the video taking the following into consideration:

What kind of imagery is used to promote tourism in Tanzania?

Who are the people in the video, what are they doing, and why do you think the makers of the video chose to show these particular people and activities?

Does the video make you want to visit Tanzania? Why or why not?

Nick’s Story   

Nick 2

Nick is a student from New York who recently experienced the Tanzanian tourism industry for the first time. In the following passage, he shares some of his experiences.

Q and A:

Q: How did you first hear about Tanzania?

A: The first time I heard reliable information about Tanzania was my freshman year of college. A friend of mine who later majored in anthropology was preparing for a summer study trip in Tanzania and talked about where she was going.

Q: Why did you decide to visit Tanzania?

A: I decided to visit Tanzania recently because I had an invitation from my girlfriend, a graduate student, who was in east Africa learning Swahili and doing research.

Q: What did you know about Tanzania before you arrived?

A: I had a cursory understanding of the history and current political situation in Tanzania from conversations with my girlfriend and from reading a travel guide, the World Factbook, and press articles.

Q: Is there anything you wish you would have known?

A: I wish I had known East Africa’s political situation in more detail.

Activity: Below are links to some of the materials Nick used to gain knowledge of the destination:

Lonely Planet’s Tanzania Travel Guide

CIA World Factbook: Tanzania

Pretend you are going to visit Tanzania. Explore the websites above to answer the following questions about your visit:

From the Lonely Planet website:

  1. What is Tanzania’s currency and what is the current exchange rate? Will I be able to pay for my hotel with a credit card?
  2. What vaccinations should I have before going to Tanzania?
  3. How long will my tourist visa be valid?

From the CIA World Factbook:

  1. Are there any other languages spoken in Tanzania besides Swahili and English
  2. What is Tanzania’s current population?
  3. Who is the current president of Tanzania?

Theme 2: Legal and Safety Arrangements

Us-passport   Yellow_fever_certificate

All foreigners entering Tanzania must present an official passport from the government of their home country, as well as a certificate of vaccination from the World Health Organization which verifies that the person has been inoculated against yellow fever.

Legal arrangements must be made in order for people to be able to travel—this includes things like passports and visas for international travelers. Sometimes individuals or groups need special permits to go certain places or pursue particular activities. In Tanzania, sports like deep-water scuba diving or hunting require licenses. Tanzania also requires that tourists obtain special permission to gain entrance to culturally sacred, environmentally endangered or politically unstable parts of the country. For example, all of Tanzania’s National Parks require visitors to register and pay an entry fee before they go inside. Before entering institutions like refugee camps, it is customary to get permission from the camp director. Certain bureaucratic steps must also usually be taken before individuals or groups can pursue humanitarian activities like providing medical or food aid to Tanzanians. Other legal arrangements have to do with safety concerns such as getting special vaccinations or purchasing health insurance before leaving the United States.

Legal arrangements help Tanzanian officials to know how many tourists are entering and exiting the country, where they come from, and possibly what activities they plan to pursue while staying in Tanzania. The Tanzania Tourist Board publishes tourism statistics every year, and many tourist sites use this information to make sure there is enough room to accommodate visitors and that things like language will not be a barrier to the tourists’ enjoyment of or safety while in their destination. Likewise, safety arrangements help Tanzanian officials to prevent the contraction and spread of yellow fever to both tourists and local residents. Most visitors to Tanzania purchase travel health insurance, which can reimburse tourists for the costs of medical services and even emergency evacuation if it’s needed.

The problem with the legal and safety arrangements associated with tourism in Tanzania is that these processes can take a lot of time and money to complete. In fact, these legal and safety procedures can be cumbersome enough to convince some potential tourists not to visit Tanzania at all. Many also argue that legal and safety arrangements like the ones in Tanzania allow governments and officials too much control over peoples’ movements and activities. Over the past few decades, the Tanzanian Ministry of Natural Resources and Tourism has put programs in place to lessen the legal burdens that visitors to the country face. One of these programs cut the paperwork required of foreigners to half of its original amount. Another program, called the “visa upon arrival” program, makes it possible for foreigners to get a tourist visa when they arrive at the airport instead of having to apply for the visa months ahead of time.

ARMY, U.S. ARMY MEDICAL SCHOOL; TYPHOID VACCINE Creator(s): Harris & Ewing, photographer Date Created/Published: 1917, LC-DIG-hec-09988, Library of Congress Prints and Photographs DivisionBottling typhoid vaccine United States. Army Medical Dept. Professional Service Schools. 1944. National Library of Medicine  A02050

Researchers develop a vaccination against typhoid fever for use by military personnel (1917). Vaccinations against tropical disease used to be expensive and difficult to get. Now, these vaccinations are mass produced, making it easier, safer, and less expensive for tourists to visit countries like Tanzania safely.

As you will see from the examples below, experiences with legal and safety arrangements in Tanzania vary greatly:

Theme 2 Examples:

Vickie’s Story

Vickie 2

Vickie is in Tanzania conducting “service tourism.” During her three month stay, Vickie plans to not only sightsee and visit friends, but also taking Swahili lessons and volunteering as a nurse at a local clinic. To prepare for her tourism experience, Vickie had to get extra vaccinations and take a course in tropical medicine. She also had to apply to the Tanzanian Embassy in Washington D.C. for a special visa to conduct volunteer work in Tanzania. Even though she began the process nearly a year before she left the United States, she was still worried that she might not have the proper visa by the time she arrived in Tanzania.

Pretend that you need to apply for a visa to visit Tanzania. Explore the same Tanzanian Embassy’s website services website and answer the following questions:

  1. How many kinds of visas are available for travel to/through Tanzania? What kind of visa do I need if I want to be just a tourist? What kind of visa do I need if I want to do something else in Tanzania in addition to tourism, like study or volunteer?
  2. How much will my visa cost
  3. What are the requirements for a tourist visa?

Trip Advisor’s Visa Advice

 The international travel website TripAdvisor is used by tourists all over the world to share and rate their experiences of tourism. This website alone (and there are many more like it) hosts nearly 20,000 forums about tourism in Tanzania. Below you will find a link to TripAdvisor’s advice forum on how to get a tourist visa for Tanzania.

Read the question “Getting a Visa on Arrival—good idea?”. Then stroll down to read the first five replies to the question. Form an educated opinion by answering the following:

In general, do the respondents seem to like or dislike the visa on arrival service? What challenges, if any, have respondents faced when trying to get their visas on arrival at the airport? Is there anything that might discourage someone from using this service? Based on what you have read, would you get your visa before leaving for Tanzania, or would you wait to get it when you arrive at the airport?

Theme 3: Travel

Actually getting people to the tourist destination is one of the most important considerations in tourism. Transportation via air, land, or sea must be available for the right number of people to arrive at the destination. Travel is an industry with many benefits: it allows people to see and experience new places, provides people with specialized training and jobs, and also allows for the transport of goods. The downside of the travel industry is that many modes of transportation can be very damaging to the environment. It may also disturb people’s habitats by producing noise or taking land in order to build ports, roads, railroads, airports or airstrips. Larger towns in Tanzania have well-developed systems of public transportation, and primary tourist destinations are easily accessible through bus travel. The Tanzania-Zambia Railway, or TAZARA, the international railroad linking Tanzania to Zambia is also in operation. Although this train moves very slowly, many believe that it is one of the more comfortable ways to see the country. Despite these many ways to get around in Tanzania, there are still roads in bad condition and lots of places that are difficult to reach. Many Tanzanians also worry about the damaging effects that these means of transport might have on the country’s natural environment. One case in point are the concerns raised when vehicles traveling through Tanzania’s Mikumi National Park collide with the park’s wildlife. These encounters are dangerous to the vehicle’s passengers and often fatal for the animal. Additionally, Tanzania’s farmers are all too aware that increases in air pollution worldwide have affected the country’s local climate. Many have begun to plant trees in hopes of lessening some of the air pollution caused by sea, air, and ground travel in and around the country.

Theme 3 Examples:

Road travel 

Buses are the primary form of long-distance travel in Tanzania. They are used for long routes between cities. Tourists use different types of busses to get around the country—larger groups use private busses, while smaller groups may use normal busses with other Tanzanians. Local buses can be very crowded. A type of bus commonly used by tourists is the “luxury bus,” offering more expensive tickets for extra-large seats for long travel. Buses are best for use on tarmac roads, which limits where they can go. Large groups of tourists are also often transported by rental busses. 

Transport getting ready for the morning rush
Transport getting ready for the morning rush

Bus stand in Morogoro

bus map

The map above shows the extent to which bus travel is limited due to the condition and number of Tanzania’s tarmac roads. The roads identified as “major roads” (in yellow) are likely to have a lot of bus traffic, while the “other roads” (in white) often are unable to hold large buses safely. As Tanzania’s economy and rates of industrial development grow the number of large tarmac roads increase as well, which continuously opens more areas up to tourist activity.

Activity: Pretend you are a bus-owning tour operator offering a “safari bus trip” through Tanzania, starting in Dar-es-Salaam. Compare the map below (of Tanzania’s major National Parks), and the map above of Tanzania’s tarmac roads. What parks or cities will be inaccessible to your bus?

safari parks

Now continue reading to find out what other means of transportation you might be able to use to get your tourists to as many National Parks as possible.


Daladalas are “city” and “rural” buses—these vehicles are large minivans that have an established route within the city or along rural roads. In both cases, daladalas have established stops. These vehicles are often used on rural roads because they are smaller, lighter, and sturdier than large busses. For these reasons, daladalas are less prone to breaking down and getting flat tires in rural roads.

Image source: authored by user CokeeOrg

Activity: The picture above is a picture of a major traffic intersection in Dar-es-Salaam. How many busses and daladalas can you count versus private cars?


There are three main forms of taxi in Tanzania. In cities, numerous taxi drivers drive cars, but there are also cheaper options that do not cost as much as a car taxi: Motorcycle taxis are abundant in cities, and in smaller towns and villages bicycle taxis, in which the passenger sits on the back of a bicycle while being transported, are also available. An additional option that has developed in the last decade called the “bajaji.” “Bajaji” is a Swahili play on Bajaj, the name of the Indian company that builds these smaller three-wheeled vehicles often used as taxis in many urban areas. Bajais offer a good middle-ground for tourists—they are safer than motorcycles or bicycles, but not as expensive as cars. They have the additional advantage that, like motorcycles and bicycles, they can take smaller roads or paths, and easily weave through or around a traffic jam.

motorcycle taxi





Air Travel:

 Air travel in Tanzania is extensive. Tanzania has two international airports, one in Dar-es-Salaam and one in Arusha, that bring in international flights every day from all over the world. Additionally, it has 23 smaller airports that range from small buildings shuttling several flights per day to airstrips in national parks, where there may possibly be only one airplane per week landing. Tanzania’s smaller airports can only accommodate airplanes holding 15 people or less. There are nine companies that fly fleets of smaller airplanes, and as of 2014, there were 93 registered private airplanes operating in Tanzania. Air is one of the common modes of transportation for tourists, upper class Tanzanians, and expatriates. 

Closely watched by airport personnel compete with firefighting equipment
A prop plane landing at Kilimanjaro airstrip

Water Travel:

Ferry: fifteen different ferry companies operate daily ferry service between Dar-es-Salaam and Zanzibar. There are additional ferries operating to cross the Pangani River near the city of Tanga, and also to cross Lake Mwanza. 

dar-zanzibar ferry

Theme 4: Accommodation

Tourists must have a place to stay and food to eat once they arrive at their destination. These usually occur in the form of hotels and restaurants, but sometimes they can also be camp sites or host families that provide food and lodging. Accommodation, like travel, can also create lots of jobs but may displace people or damage the environment. Tourists to Tanzania are becoming more aware of this issue, and many are making a conscious effort to get accommodation from places that benefit the local people and economy. The Tanzanian government has put stricter controls on the number of people allowed in National Parks, and part of the entrance fee to these parks is now allocated to park maintenance and renewal. You already learned about beach resorts in Zanzibar. In addition to larger hotels, there are some other types of accommodation offered in Tanzania that you may not know about.

Guest houses:

Guest houses are small facilities that offer bed and breakfast. They are usually family-owned, and often much cheaper for tourists than staying in large hotels.

A popular guest house on the island of Zanzibar


A hostel is a large accommodation facility that uses communal bathrooms, showers, and rooms that house multiple tourists at a time. Like guest houses, these are some of the cheapest tourist accommodations available in Tanzania. Hostels are often frequented by large groups or younger people who do not have much money for more expensive hotels. Many solo tourists also find the communal atmosphere of hostels inviting because it gives them the chance to make new friends and travel partners.

Below: the beds and communal area of a popular hostel in Arusha


hostel communal space

Camp sites:

Campsites date back to the colonial period when colonial officials (usually men) would set up camps while on safari or climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro. In Tanzania, a variety of camp sites are available at most National Parks, from elaborate tents with carpets and large wood-framed beds, to cleared patches of grass where tourists set up their own tents.

barafu camp
Barafu camp on Mt. Kilimanjaro. Photo by Mosaic Marketing
Row of tents at the Ngiri Campsite, Serengeti National Park, Tanzania
Row of tents at the Ngiri Campsite, Serengeti National Park, Tanzania
ngorongoro tent
Luxury tent in Ngorongoro National Park

Safari Lodges:

Safari lodges are similar to beach resorts. These are large, usually expensive hotel-like buildings that offer accommodation for tourists who want to stay in the National Park overnight. They provide full meals and offer tourists the unique chance to observe animals in the night time.

safari lodge
View from the balcony of a safari lodge. photo by anton matthe


Activity: Read the following story by primatologist Robert Sapolsky. Then answer the critical thinking questions below.

“In the early 1980s, “Forest Troop,” a group of savanna baboons I had been studying—virtually living with—for years, was going about its business in a national park in Kenya when a neighboring baboon group had a stroke of luck: Its territory encompassed a tourist lodge that expanded its operations and, consequently, so did the amount of food tossed into its garbage dump. Baboons are omnivorous, and this “Garbage Dump Troop” was delighted to feast on leftover drumsticks, half-eaten hamburgers, remnants of chocolate cake, and anything else that wound up there. Soon they had shifted to sleeping in the trees immediately above the pit, descending each morning just in time for the day’s dumping of garbage. (They soon got quite obese from the rich diet and lack of exercise, but that is another story.)

The development produced nearly as dramatic a shift in the social behavior of Forest Troop. Each morning, approximately half of its adult males would infiltrate Garbage Dump Troop’s territory, descending on the pit in time for the day’s dumping and battling the resident males for access to the garbage. The particular Forest Troop males who did this shared two traits: They were especially combative (which was necessary to get the food away from the other baboons), and they were not very interested in socializing (the raids took place early in the morning, during the hours when the bulk of a savanna baboon’s daily communal grooming occurs).

Soon afterward, tuberculosis, a disease that moves with devastating speed and severity in nonhuman primates, broke out in Garbage Dump Troop. Over the next year, most of its members died, as did all of the males from Forest Troop who had foraged at the dump. (Considerable sleuthing ultimately revealed that the disease had come from tainted meat in the garbage dump. There was little animal-to-animal transmission of the tuberculosis, and so the disease did not spread in Forest Troop beyond the garbage eaters.) The results were that Forest Troop was left with males who were less aggressive and more social than average, and the troop now had double its previous female-to-male ratio.”

Critical thinking questions:

What changes did Sapolsky observe in baboon behavior as a result of the presence of the national park lodge?

How did the presence of the lodge affect the baboons’ health? What do you think the lodge could have done to prevent these dangers to the baboons’ health?

Ndela’s Story:


Ndela is a hotel manager in Dar-es-Salaam

Q and A:

Q: What job do you do in the service industry and how did you get involved?

A: I manage a hotel here in Dar-es-Salaam. I learned how to run a hotel because my aunt used to own a small guest house in Msasani. I basically lived there!

Q: What kind of training did you need in order to be a successful in this industry?

A: I attended the National College of Tourism. They teach every type of tourism in Tanzania, including hotel management. We had to complete an internship before graduating to test our skills.

Q: What is the hardest part of your job?

A: Bookkeeping can be very difficult for me because I am not good at math, but it is part of my job so I have to do it. I am also responsible for my employees. When one of them can’t come to work or is late because of a traffic jam I have to take over their duties and sometimes that leaves the front desk open with no one to serve customers. This is very stressful for me.

Activity: Visit the following website of the Tanzania National College of Tourism to see the school where Ndele received her training. What kinds of things did Ndele need to learn in order to work in the hotel industry?

Group 4: Common Language

One of the primary factors that tourists consider when making travel plans or choosing their destination is the languages spoken in these situations. Common language is especially important in travel because tourists are often unfamiliar with the terrain, norms, and customs of the tourist destination. Tourists need to be able to request accommodation, find places of interest, and ask for help if they need it. Governments try to take stock of the most common nationalities that visit their country so that they can arrange to accommodate people speaking different languages. However, this is only possible if resources are available to do it. For example, the common language spoken in most tourist destinations is English, this usually means that English translations of maps, restaurant menus, and brochures may be available to varying degrees.

Meeting the condition of common language means not only that more tourists are likely to visit, but also that more cultural exchange can take place. Common language allows local people and the tourists to interact with one another and share information, and it enables tourists to learn more about the real conditions of the place they are visiting. The condition of common language is of course beneficial for tourists and tour operators alike, but it also has its disadvantages. Most of the time, individuals and organizations associated with the tourist industry attempt to alleviate the language problem by requiring their employees to have some knowledge of English. This means that only the more educated of those living in tourist destinations actually have access to the employment the tourist industry offers, while others who really need jobs may not be able to find positions. The conception of a common language is also changing as more people from more diverse nation-states gain the resources to travel. For example, tourist destinations all over the world are currently facing an increasing demand for translators of Korean, Mandarin, and Japanese. As locations become increasingly oriented toward the tourist market the demand for English can become so high that some locals might fear their language could be lost altogether.

Tanzania’s most widely-spoken language is Swahili. The Tanzanian ministry of tourism endorses the use of English as a common language between Tanzanians working in the tourism industry and tourists who visit the country. Today more Tanzanians have a working knowledge of the English language than ever before, mainly because Tanzanian secondary education is taught entirely in English. At the same time, the majority of newspapers, radio stations and television stations are Swahili-speaking, which means that everyday exposure to English is limited for those Tanzanians who are enrolled in secondary education. Tanzanians working in the tourist industry face great pressure to speak English even though they may have little chance to practice before beginning their job. For any Tanzanian the majority of everyday interactions are likely to occur in Swahili. This delicate balance keeps the language alive and alleviates most people’s fears that Swahili may become secondary to English as the lingua-franca of the country.

Activity: The website About Travel offers a section to help tourists learn Swahili. Together with a partner, set a timer and watch the teaching video on the website. Note how much time it takes you to memorize all the words and phrases in the video well enough for you and your partner to mimic the women in the video.

Now, count the total number of Swahili words listed in the website, and imagine that you are a Swahili-speaking student at the College of Tourism in Tanzania. Your task is to learn the basic words and phrases you need to know in order to communicate with your customers. Based on how long it took you to learn the ten words in the video, how long do you think it would take for you to learn the words and phrases you need to know? What if you had to learn these words in other languages as well-like Chinese or German?

What are the most useful words and phrases you see on the website?

If you were a tourist in Tanzania, which of these words or phrases do you think would be most helpful to you? Are there any other words or phrases that you think you would need that are not listed on the website?


Brainstorm 2: Conditions for Tourism in Tanzania

Having read about one specific condition for tourism in Tanzania, take five minutes to brainstorm two lists. On one list, write down what is good about your condition for tourism. How is it helpful to tourists? How is it helpful to locals? On the second list, write down any potential problems you see with this condition. Are there some groups who might benefit more than others?

Have each group present their two brainstorms to the rest of the class and discuss how tourism in Tanzania might be different than tourism in the United States. Are there other themes that should have been included in these brainstorms?

Go on to Activity Four or select from one of the other activities in this module