The Tanzanian government has created a small tour operator category in an effort to reduce statutory burdens and promote new businesses, a decision that may lead to a fall in tourist fees.

Local press reports that the strategy is incentivised through the introduction of the new Tanzania Tourism Business Licensing (TTBL) fee structure, which is due to come into effect this month.

The TTBL will see small tour operators, who were paying a flat rate of $2 000 per year (the same as their larger counterparts) now paying $500 per year - a 75% reduction. The government aims to encourage the growth of small tourism businesses and foster the development of new products to keep up with the growing tourist demand.

Minister of Natural Resources and Tourism of Tanzania, Dr Hamis Kingwangalla, said foreign tour operators with between 10 and 30 vehicles would pay $5 000; those with 31 to 50 vehicles would pay $7 500; and operators with 51 vehicles and above would incur $10 000 for TTBL per annum. Local tour operators with up to three tourist vehicles will pay a TTBL fee of $500; while those with between four and 10 vehicles will pay $2 000; 11 and 50 vehicles $3 000; and 51 and above, $5 000.

“At the heart of the new TTBL fees structure is to make tourism more inclusive by taking on board all lower end tour operators with one to three vehicles,” Dr Kingwangalla said.

Small local operators have expressed their satisfaction with the government's decision. "I am very happy with proposed fee structure. The previous fees were unfavourable for the small operators. We had to increase tour package fee to tourists in order to gain profit. This will encourage growth in the sector and create more job opportunities," Godfrey Moshi, an official from African Traits told All Africa.

Kingwangalla said the strategy would be implemented in response to the tourism industry’s favourable performance, which had provided the government with the financial flexibility required to reduce fees. In 2016, the number of tourist arrivals reached 1 284 279, rising by 12% from 1 137 182 in 2015. The country’s tourism earnings rose by 12% to $2.1bn in 2016 from $1.90bn in 2015, which was equivalent to 178% of the country's GDP.