Tanzania: Digital Registration of Hotel Visitors in Tanzania Draw Mixed Reactions

Dar es Salaam — Visitors who spend time in public accommodation facilities such as hotels and guest houses in Tanzania are now required to register digitally on the MNRT portal according to a new directive by the ministry of natural resources and tourism.

This, the ministry says is a move to get a clear picture of both domestic and international travelers.

However, hotel operators are worried that the system may have some privacy drawbacks on the part of some visitors.

“We have also read the advertisement, and we are only waiting for the right time when we can be better-informed on what the system entails before we voice our reservations to the government regarding the system,” said Hotels Association of Tanzania (HAT) chief executive officer Nura-Lisa Karamagi.

But, according to the acting director of Tourism, Mr Philip Chitaunga, the system will treat privacy information as confidential, and that the government was only seeking to get accurate information regarding the number of domestic and international tourists in the country.

“Hotels that would be involved are the ones that receive tourists, and not guest houses. The Tourism Act directs this to be conducted for registered tourist facilities,” Mr Chitaunga said.

He told The Citizen yesterday when the paper sought clarifications on the public notice which states that the Tourism Act (No 29 of 2008) and The Tourism Accommodation Facilities Regulations (Amendment) 2019, directed owners of accommodation facilities to register foreign and domestic visitors through the ministry’s portal by October 1 this year.

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Last year’s statistics released by the Bank of Tanzania (BoT) show that the number of tourist arrivals increased to 1.5 million in 2018, up from 1.3 million in 2017.

The National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) conducted a monthly survey of hotel statistics to determine hotel bed occupancy rate in December last year, which showed that the occupancy rate was some 53.8 percent.

He said that, for many years, NBS has not had official statistics of local tourists, while the ministry has been relying on information on park gates to in various tourist attractions. There indeed are large numbers of people travelling to other parts for leisure.

“This new system will integrate all the systems of tourism institutions that fall under the ministry, he said – adding that “the aim is to improve our statistics so that we can determine the impact of tourism on the economy.”

According to him, the system will start in Arusha, Coast, Dar es Salaam, Manyara and Kilimanjaro regions, which are the leading tourist destinations. The system will finally be countrywide.

He told Tanzanians not to fear the system, saying that Tanzania was late in adopting the system, which has been operating in many other countries, across the world.

For her part, the HAT chief executive, Nura-Lisa Karamagi said: “We will know the good and bad aspects of the system after training for it. We work with assorted agencies, and they want their clients’ information to be kept confidential – and when they leave the country, it is deleted permanently. We don’t know how the system will work out as yet.”