Expansion of air connections – including the launch of new low-cost routes – airport upgrades and developments, as well as new additions to the national airline are expected to help sustain Tanzania’s recent growth in visitor numbers, while also bolstering tourism overall.

In June 2017 the UAE-based low-cost carrier flydubai announced that from late October 2017 it would launch six flights per week between the UAE and Kilimanjaro, the tallest peak on the African continent. This service will bring the airline’s total operations to 14 flights a week and mark a 133% increase in capacity to the market compared to the previous year. The airline already operates services to Dar es Salaam and Zanzibar, and it is also planning to increase the number of direct flights to the latter from three per week to eight.

Long-Haul Capacity

Another move to expand passenger capacity was initiated by the government in November 2016, when it made purchase agreements worth $200m with Canadian manufacturer Bombardier for a Q400 turboprop aircraft and two CS300 jetliners. This is in addition to the two Bombardier Q400 turboprops delivered in September 2016.

National flag carrier Air Tanzania will lease and operate the new aircraft, with the government allocating TSh500m ($224,000) to the company under its FY 2017/18 budget to help it complete payments for the two Bombardier CS300s and the Boeing Dreamliner. The airline saw its passenger numbers rise by 46% yearon-year to 47,510 between July 2016 and March of 2017, according to the Ministry of Works, Transport and Communications, with the addition of the two, 76-seater Q400 planes to its fleet in September 2016 helping to facilitate these gains.

Overall air passenger numbers have been mixed over the last decade, rising significantly, then dropping slightly in the past several years. The Tanzania Airports Authority (TAA) reported that passenger numbers rose by 13.5% to 4.95m in 2013 and 4.8% in 2014 to 5.19m, although TAA statistics show the total volume fell by 1.54% in 2015 to 5.11m. Comprehensive statistics for 2016 were not available at the time of press; however, passenger numbers at Julius Nyerere International Airport (JNIA) – the country’s main airport – fell from 2.5m in 2015 to 2.47m in 2016. The country’s airport authority has targeted reaching 18.51m passengers annually by 2033, including 9.4m at JNIA.

To help meet this projected demand growth and increase the sector’s regional competitiveness, the construction of a new terminal at the congested JNIA is currently one of the biggest developments being undertaken. The country’s principal airport is designed to handle just 1.2m passengers annually, with the TSh560bn ($254.7m) third terminal increasing capacity to 6m. The terminal’s launch has been delayed twice since it was first announced, with construction beginning in 2013 for an initial completion date of August 2016. At the beginning of 2017 the MWTC reported that the deadline for completion of JNIA’s Terminal 3 had been pushed to the end of the year as the project would now require an additional TSh279.7bn ($127.2m) of financing. It is currently expected to open in February 2019.

Further Growth Potential

These recent developments come on the back of solid growth in both arrivals and revenue in 2016. Tanzania welcomed 1.28m tourists that year, an increase of 12.9%, according to the Ministry of Natural Resources and Tourism, with sector revenue rising by 5% to $2bn, and the tourism industry’s contribution to GDP reaching 17.5%.

These numbers are expected to increase further over the next 10 years, with the most recent report on Tanzania from the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC) forecasting growth of nearly 7% per annum in visitor exports through to the year 2027, to reach TSh10trn ($4.8bn). The WTTC also projects the sector’s direct contribution to GDP will rise, from $2.1bn in 2016 to $4.1bn by 2027. Its direct contribution to employment is similarly expected to increase by 56% to approximately 732,000 jobs (see Tourism chapter).