Monday, May 28, 2012

Concern raised over violence against tourists in Tanzania

ETN Global Travel Industry News has reported that there has been an increasing number of violent attacks on tourists in Dar es Salaam (pictured), Tanzania, citing a letter that it says was written by the Hotels Association of Tanzania. The letter, which was sent to the permanent secretary in the Ministry of Natural Resources and Tourism, states: “On behalf of our members in Dar es Salaam, we wish to bring to your attention a rise in numbers as well as severity in physical assaults on tourists and the general public around hotels and restaurants in the city centre as well as in Masaki.” The letter went on to draw attention to several incidents that occurred in one week in May – one on each night of the week – and each one close to a well-established hotel.

The UK’s Foreign and Commonwealth Office states on its travel advice for Tanzania: “Although most visits to Tanzania are trouble-free, violent and armed crime is increasing, with incidents reported both on the mainland, Zanzibar and the islands. Muggings, bag grabs (especially from passing cars) and robberies, including forced withdrawal from ATMs, sometimes armed and accompanied by violence or the threat of violence, have increased throughout Tanzania especially in areas frequented by backpackers and expatriates.”

The US State Department warned its citizens of a particular scam that has been reported by tourists and expats in Tanzania, whereby ‘a US citizen is approached by a Tanzanian gentleman (usually dressed in western style clothing – baseball cap, jeans, t-shirt, sneakers) who appears to speak very good English. He sees the US citizen waiting for transportation and offers to have his friend who is a taxi cab driver take  the traveller to their destination. Once in the vehicle, the US citizen is threatened by the Tanzanian gentleman and driver to hand over money from their bank accounts as well as personal belongings’. The organisation added: “A continuing concern is Tourè Drive on Msasani Peninsula in Dar es Salaam. Tourè Drive is the beachfront road from the Sea Cliff Hotel into town, which provides an inviting view of the ocean. There are regular reports of daytime muggings, pick-pocketing, and theft from cars, and the road continues to be an area of concern any time of day on foot or by car. US government personnel are expressly advised to avoid walking or running along Tourè Drive. In Arusha, the high number of foreign tourists attracts pickpockets and bag snatchers.” The Sea Cliff Hotel is also mentioned in the letter from the Hotels Association of Tanzania, which cited an incident involving tourists walking back to the Sea Cliff Hotel.

The Canadian Foreign Affairs and International Trade website warned its citizens: “Violent crime has increased throughout [Tanzania]. Exercise a high degree of caution, especially in Dar es Salaam and Zanzibar, and in public places such as hotels, restaurants, nightclubs, cinemas, and shopping centres. Muggings, attacks, and hold-ups occur occasionally in Stone Town and in the immediate vicinity of the coastal resorts on Unguja. You should be vigilant, particularly in Stone Town after dark.” The Australian Smart Traveller website issued very similar advice.

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