Mto wa Mbu cultural tourism centre, about 126 km west of Arusha city, and next to the National Park of Lake Manyara, becomes a must stopover point for tourists, as it has become a key tourist allure only after wildlife, adding value to Tanzania’s natural resource-rich northern tourist circuit. At the moment, a number of travel companies are competing each other to embrace the cultural program into their itineraries in order to get a cut of the growing market.
“I’m humbled. I thank God after 22 years of the painstaking efforts, dedication, time, and considerable private funding, the cultural tourism undertaking is now taking shape,” said Mr. Kileo, the man behind Mto wa Mbu Cultural Tourism. “We are very grateful almost everyone in the travel business seems to be touching up their brands with Mto wa Mbu cultural tourism buzzwords, like connected, experiential, and authentic,” he told eTurboNews.
Data speaks volumes on the economic impact of the cultural tourism at the small town of Mto wa Mbu in northern Tanzania. Official statistics seen by eTurboNews show that Mto wa Mbu CTP now attracts roughly 7,000 foreign tourists who leave behind nearly $126,000 to the destitute community per annum, a substantial income indeed by African standards. Analysts say the Mto wa Mbu cultural tourism undertaking is the best model to transfer tourists dollars to the poor people as official data shows that about 17,600 folks in the area earn a decent income from tourists.
Sipora Piniel is among 85 traditional food traders at Mto wa Mbu small, who never imagined they could prepare their local menu and serve tourists. Thanks to the cultural tourism progam’s initiative, the poor women are now selling their traditional food to tourists from as far away as Europe, America, and Asia. Tourists also say that Mto wa Mbu’s cultural tourism program and wildlife safari offer them a glimpse of a real African experience they will cherish forever.
“[It’s a] very interesting opportunity to experience the real Africa; very friendly tour guides and delicious traditional food prepared by local women,” said a tourist from Mexico, Mr. Ignacio Castro Foulkes, shortly after visiting Mto wa Mbu’s cultural sites. Mr. Castro vowed to highly recommend the cultural tourism experience together with the wildlife safari back home.
The consumer travels to Mto wa Mbu and creates opportunities for locals to sell traditional goods and services ranging from local pottery to a guided walk; bike riding; and climbing to the top of the rift valley wall for breath-taking views of Lake Manyara, the village of Mto wa Mbu, and the Maasai steppe beyond. Others visit Maasai boma and see the lifestyle of this legendary tribe up close, being served delicious home-cooked meals in local homes, getting an inside look at the homes and exquisite crafts of Mto wa Mbu’s many tribes, and seeing the innovative farming practices, among others.
Mto wa Mbu, a gateway to the most famous tourist sites in Tanzania such as Manyara, Serengeti national parks, and Ngorongoro conservation area, serves as a role model for CTP which the government is pushing hard to tap its potential so as to boost the tourism industry. Cultural tourism is much broader than historical sites and curio shops. In this case, visitors have to be exposed to the typical lifestyles of the local communities, their traditional food, clothing, houses, dances, and so on.