DAR ESSALAM - Tanzania is once again turning to film to attract tourists but this time focused on visitors from China. A new documentary, dubbed “Amazing Tanzania,” is scheduled to premiere in May featuring Chinese actor Jin Dong, who is also a tourism goodwill ambassador for the country.

The government hopes it will build on the success of Tanzania: The Royal Tour, an internationally-distributed TV program which debuted in 2022 and is credited with helping increase tourist arrivals in the East African nation, after the pandemic downturn. Like its predecessor, the new documentary will showcase some of the country’s top natural attractions, including wildlife havens, mountains and sandy beaches. It will also feature Tanzania’s President Suluhu Hassan.

Tourist arrivals in Tanzania grew 22% to hit a record 1.84 million visitors in the year ending January 2024. Only 44,438 Chinese tourists visited Tanzania in 2023, though that was up 32% from 33,541 in 2019.

Tapping into the Chinese market would be a major boost to the country’s tourism industry, which accounts for around 17% of the country’s GDP. Tanzania’s earnings from tourism grew to $3.4 billion in the year ending January 2024, up from $2.6 billion the previous year.

“I think Tanzania has been slow to deliberately grow numbers from China compared to other countries with comparable tourism industries in the region, so this is a positive move,” Brian Mwinyi, a Dar es Salaam-based travel consultant, told Semafor Africa. He cited South Africa and Kenya which grew Chinese tourist arrivals by 216% and 154% respectively in 2023, compared with the previous year.

“Using media and entertainment is one way to really capture the imagination of many people, but we also need more direct flights and partnerships with travel agencies and other stakeholders to actually increase these numbers,” he said.