Socialist Tanzania - in a pinch for cash - trades ideology for tourist dollars
Socialist Tanzania has pushed aside any former aversion to wealthy foreign tourists in the interests of bringing new money into the country. The desperately poor nation now is launching a tourist campaign to lure travelers to the Serengeti National Park, which has one of the greatest concentrations of wild animals in the world, the Ngorongoro Crater, and Mt. Kilimanjaro, the highest mountain in Africa.
Forgotten in the search for foreign exchange has been Tanzania's former idealistic reluctance to ''corrupt'' its poor people with floods of dollars. In its eagerness to attract foreigners, Tanzania has even encouraged the hunting of many wild animals.
But it is not easy for such a poor country to revive tourism. Since the United Republic of Tanzania was formed in 1964, the tourist infrastructure of hotels, lodges, roads, transport, and food has gradually decayed.
Tanzania did not have enough tourist hotels to start with. At this point, most hotels are owned by the nationalized Tanzania Tourist Corporation.
Tanzania now is encouraging foreign investors and local firms develop to develop the hotel industry. Building new hotels, however, in the harsh economic climate of Tanzania, is expensive. So the government is trying to rehabilitate existing hotels and lodges and improve the tourist infrastructure.
The World Bank has stepped in with a rehabilitation program which includes overhauling hotel air conditioning systems, electrical installations, and sanitation facilities.
There are also diesel generators and vehicles being provided and the hotel and lodge buildings themselves are being restored and repaired.
About 100,000 tourists came to Tanzania in the 1982-1983 season, bringing some $17 million in foreign exchange.
Tourism Minister George Kahama, however, says: ''We should be getting a million tourists.''
Since the reopening of the Tanzania-Kenya border, arrangments have been made with Kenyan tour operators to offer tours to Tanzania. Some such tours involve beach holidays in Kenya and animal safaris in Tanzania.
West Germans are the most numerous tourists in all East Africa.