page contents

Tanzania’s Mto wa Mbu cultural sites – the next tourism frontier

Tanzania’s Mto wa Mbu cultural sites – the next tourism frontier

When Wesley Kileo conceived an idea of packaging culture as a next tourism frontier in northern Tanzania, majority of people thought he was crazy.

Nearly 22 years now, ‘Mto wa Mbu’ Cultural Tourism Program (CTP) has indeed become a key tourists allure, only after wildlife, adding value to the Tanzania’s natural resource-rich northern tourist circuit.

Mto wa Mbu CTP, about 126km west of Arusha city, becomes a must stopover point for tourists, with a number of travel companies compete with 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” says Mr Kileo, the man behind the Mto wa Mbu CTP.

“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 Mto wa Mbu small town in northern Tanzania.

Official statistics, seen by the 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 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 decent income from the tourists.

Sipora Piniel, is among 85 tradition food traders at Mto wa Mbu small town who never imagined they could prepare their local menu and serve for tourists.

Thanks to the cultural tourism progam’s initiative, the poor women are now selling the traditional food to tourists from as far as the Europe, America and Asia.

“Its like a miracle for us. No one ever thought would be able to cook for tourists to enjoy…but we thank God, we have successfully managed” Ms Piniel explains.

Indeed, their lives are better off today, as they afford to pay fees for their schoolchildren, build modern houses and foot healthcare bills — one of the key challenges facing most rural dwellers in Africa.

Tourists also say that Mto wa Mbu cultural tourism program and wildlife safari offer them a glimpse of a real African experience they would cherish forever.

“Very interesting opportunity to experience the real Africa. Very friendly tour guides and delicious traditional food prepared by local women” says a tourist from Mexico, Mr Ignacio Castro Foulkes shortly after visiting Mto wa Mbu 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 destination create opportunities for locals to sale traditional goods and services ranging from local pottery to a guided walk, bike riding, 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 are visiting of Maasai boma and see the lifestyle of this legendary tribe-up close, served delicious, home cooked meal in a local homes, get inside look at the homes and exquisite crafts of Mto wa Mbu’s many tribes and see 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 the typical lifestyles of the local communities; their traditional food, clothing, houses, dances and so on and so forth.