Tanzania is looking to draw tourists and funding from Hong Kong, with officials from the east African nation visiting the city on Friday to pitch a wide range of investment and travel opportunities.
Dr Annie Wu, the new Honorary Consul of the United Republic of Tanzania in Hong Kong and Macau, said building such connections would enable Hong Kong to better plug into mainland China’s global trade strategy, the “Belt and Road Initiative”.
Although Tanzania and other African nations have long had close financial ties with China through the belt and road strategy and other direct investment, they often missed Hong Kong as a potential partner, according to Wu.
“When African countries think about China, they all go to Beijing, then on to Shanghai and Guangzhou. That’s the normal trend, but they never come to Hong Kong,” she told the Post, noting this was because they overlooked the city’s unique status under “one country, two systems”.
She was referring to the principle by which Beijing governs Hong Kong and allows it a high degree of autonomy.
“The beauty of one country, two systems is that [it allows us to be] more flexible at doing business, [with a] rule of law more in line with the Western system, and communication [that’s] in English,” said Wu, who was appointed to her role as honorary consul in September.
The visit by the delegation was part of a 12-day tour of major Chinese cities. It was planned after Beijing's pledge to further open China’s market to Africa, made during the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation in September.
The tour comes before the launch of the first direct flights between China and Tanzania, known for destinations like the volcanic Mount Kilimanjaro and beaches of Zanzibar.
The Tanzanian group, which comprised government and tourism representatives, added Hong Kong to their trip in a bid for investment dollars and access to the luxury tourism sector, as opposed to the mass market that they said mainland China could provide.
“The primary focus for Hong Kong was investments and high-end tourists. We believe if we have high-level investment we are going to have high-level visitors from Hong Kong,” Aloyce Kashindye Nzuki, Deputy Permanent Secretary of Tanzania’s Ministry of Natural Resources and Tourism, told the Post.
Foreign direct investment from Hong Kong would “put Tanzania firmly on the map” Nzuki said.
In a speech on Friday to local travel companies and investors, he pointed to a host of sectors in which his country is seeking investment.
Officials said they added Hong Kong to their tour on Wu’s advice, but they already held interest in the Pearl River Delta, in particular because of close business ties with Guangzhou.
Air Tanzania’s direct flights to Guangzhou, starting in February, would also benefit Hong Kong tourism via the newly opened high-speed rail link between the two cities, said Devota Kasanda Mdachi, managing director of the Tanzania Tourist Board.
Nearly 30,000 visitors travel to Tanzania from Hong Kong and China annually.
Mdachi predicted the new flights and partnerships forged with travel companies on this tour would triple tourism volumes from China and Hong Kong. – South China Morning Post