Tanzania is a popular destination among leisure travellers, but this East African nation has also seen an increasing number of financial and political success stories, and is starting to hold its own economically.
Tanganyika and Zanzibar merged to form the nation of Tanzania in 1964. Its first president, Julius Nyerere, called for self-reliance and socialism, but by the ’70s it became clear that the country was overwhelmed by economic problems. Nyerere resigned in 1985, and his successor, Ali Hassan Mwinyi, focused on attracting foreign investment and relaxing government control of the economy. His policies were successful and further implemented under Benjamin Mkapa. Poverty has decreased since the mid-‘80s, and tourism has become a significant industry, whilst agriculture remains the base on which the economy is built.
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The biggest movement on the hotel scene saw Serena Hotels add the 230-room, 5-star Royal Palm Hotel to its portfolio. Previously managed by Moevenpick, the hotel was rebranded to the Dar es Salaam Serena Hotel. Arguably a bigger announcement brought the news that East Africa would soon be home to the continent’s first pan-African low-cost carrier – fastjet. That was after Lonrho sold its aviation business, which still currently runs Fly540, which in turn is expected to be absorbed by fastjet. The official launch of fastjet followed in late November, with the company stating that its initial focus would be East Africa, before moving on to countries such as Ghana and Angola. Also in the skies above Tanzania, August saw Precision Air announce that it had launched three weekly flights connecting Dar es Salaam and the Zambian capital of Lusaka. Just a couple of months later in December, Turkish Airlines became the latest airline to express an interest in Tanzania, with the announcement that it was set to begin scheduled services to Kilimanjaro International Airport. Turkish Airlines will operate five times a week on the Istanbul Ataturk – Kilimanjaro – Mombasa route. This will help connect Tanzania and other neighbouring countries to markets in the US, Canada and Europe.
Dodoma is the capital, but Dar es Salaam is the largest city and the commercial centre, whilst also being the de facto seat of most government institutions. Julius Nyerere International Airport is 13 kilometres south-west of the city.
“The airport has improved over the last few years,” says Adrian Ristow, management consultant. “But, one major bottleneck is the arrival visa process, as it’s a completely manual system. Also, be ready with your yellow fever card, whilst the taxis and hotel transfers are generally reliable. Just a warning – travel time to most hotels varies dramatically, as there are two or three intersections where bottlenecks can occur.”
“The arrivals area is very small, although baggage arrives relatively quickly,” says Shelley Summers, General Manager: American Express – Africa, Oil and Gas Division. “It’s also advisable to arrange for a car with a driver to wait for you outside the arrivals area. The whole process, from arrival to meeting your driver, should take no longer than an hour.”
Citizens of the following African countries do not require visas, for stays of up to 90 days – Botswana, Gambia, Ghana, Lesotho, Kenya, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, Rwanda, Swaziland, Uganda, Zambia, Zimbabwe.
Telecommunications remains unreliable, especially in rural areas. Outside the major urban centres mobile network coverage and Internet access is limited, although Vodacom Tanzania has invested heavily in infrastructure, and enjoys about 50% market share.
There are plenty of big brands in Dar es Salaam, in the form of Best Western, Hilton, Golden Tulip, Holiday Inn, Hyatt, Kempinski, Protea, Serena and Tsogo Sun. But outside of these, it’s the Sea Cliff that appears to be foremost in most minds.
“My favourite is the Sea Cliff – it has the best location as well as the best value for money, as long as you negotiate a good corporate rate,” says Ristow. “It’s away from the city centre, but it’s worth the extra drive. It has a great restaurant and bar overlooking the ocean and the rooms have been revamped. Make sure you ask for a sea-facing room.”
“The Sea Cliff is the most ‘posh’, although it’s also the furthest from the CBD,” says Trevor Ward, MD of W Hospitality Group. “The Hyatt is the grandest, and has a good Chinese restaurant. The Best Western is cosy, with a great pool and sea view.”
“Due to the traffic, I favour a centrally-located hotel, such as the Holiday Inn or the Kilimanjaro Kempinski,” says Bruce Page-Wood, Peermont’s Chief Operating Officer in Botswana. “If you want a seaside experience not too far from the city, I recommend the Kunduchi Beach Resort Hotel.”
Travellers entering Tanzania from countries with risk of yellow fever transmission are required to provide vaccination proof. Further to that, recommended vaccinations include hepatitis A, hepatitis B, rabies and typhoid. Malaria prophylactics are recommended, as is insect repellent. Drink only purified water.
Credit cards aren’t always accepted, so be sure to take ample cash in small denominations.
“Once you get into the city, there is plenty to calm the nerves,” says Aaron Munetsi, SAA Regional General Manager: Africa & Middle East – Global Sales. “The cuisine is coastal with a mix of Swahili and Arabic influences, and it’s is definitely worth waiting for.”
“The best restaurants are on the peninsula,” says Ward. “There is quite a variety up at the Sea Cliff.”
“Make sure to change currency to Tanzanian shilling, as taxis just take shillings mostly, and a lot of restaurants do not have card facilities,” says Ristow.
Websites – www.tanzaniatouristboard.com; www.tanzania.org.za.
Population: 43 million
Time zone: GMT+3
Plugs: Three-prong round and rectangular
Dialling code: +255
Currency: Tanzanian shilling and US dollars. Exchange rate: US$1=1597TZS
Language: English and Swahili
BA – ba.com
Condor – condor.com
Delta Air Lines – delta.com
EGYPTAIR – egyptair.com
Emirates – emirates.com
Ethiopian Airlines – flyethiopian.com
Fastjet – fastjet.com
Fly540 – fly540.com
Kenya Airways – kenya-airways.com
KLM – klm.com
LAM – lam.co.mz
Oman Air – omanair.com
Precision Air – precisionairtz.com
SAA – flysaa.com
Swiss – swiss.com
Tuifly – tuifly.com
Turkish Airlines – turkishairlines.com
Best Western Coral Beach – coralbeach-tz.com
DoubleTree by Hilton – hilton.com
Golden Tulip – goldentulipdaressalaam.com
Holiday Inn – ichotelsgroup.com
Hyatt Regency – daressalaam.kilimanjaro.hyatt.com
Kilimanjaro Kempinski – kempinski.com
Kunduchi Beach Resort – kunduchi.com
New Africa – newafrica.hotel.com
Protea – proteahotels.com
Sea Cliff – hotelseacliff.com
Serena – serenahotels.com
Southern Sun – tsogosunhotels.com
Access to Africa – access-to-africa.com
BCD Travel – bcdtravel.com
Carlson Wagonlit – carlsonwagonlit.com
Club Travel – clubcorporatetravel.co.za
HRG – hrgworldwide.com
Tourvest – tourvest.co.za
Travel With Flair – twfglobal.com
Uniglobe – uniglobetravel.mu