Tanzania: food tourism pioneer explains political obstacles

Dar es Salaam – Local cuisine has enormous potential to attract tourists, and Mr. Sunday Ndunguru, a Tanzanian entrepreneur, says there are opportunities in the seemingly lucrative food tourism sector which has yet to take hold. importance in the country.

Food tourism remains a relatively unrecognized business potential, with Mr. Ndunguru, a pioneering investor in this field, struggling to formalize his digital business and gain recognition. His business, marketed as Jiranileo, is a platform where he organizes private and group meals with local hosts from across Africa.

“We are helping people get to know their neighbors and experience warm hospitality across the continent.”

“We invite you to our table,” he says, explaining how his business works, but insists it’s not a restaurant. “It’s just a website that connects people from different cultures to learn together.”

Mr Ndunguru says he registered the Food Tourism Business Platform last year (February 2020), operating as Kambirana Group (T) Ltd, where he works as the Director of Operations and regional director for East Africa. But since then, he says, he has sought a license to operate in the country where his type of business has not officially existed.

In Tanzania, e-commerce has yet to take root due to the lack of a digital policy and other loopholes, leaving online shoppers and traders in limbo.

Food tourism, also known as culinary tourism, focuses on food as an attraction for exploration and a destination for tourists, which includes a variety of formats and products – cooking classes, restaurants, weekends at the farm, cookbooks, gastronomic guides and new or adapted recipes. and dishes.

“I am not aware [of the business], let them bring the matter to my attention, ”said Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Natural Resources and Tourism Allan Kijazi, asking anyone with such business initiatives to present them to the authorities“ for consideration ”.

Mr. Ndunguru (in his thirties) is a well-traveled man who has visited many parts of Africa and beyond [sic]. He tells The Citizen that he has experienced a wide range of tourist attractions, such as food tourism in Zambia where “street food as well as cultural tourism is growing rapidly.”

“Today’s tourist is better informed, more cultured, has traveled a lot and seeks new experiences,” he says, explaining that food also offers a gateway to understanding other cultures, through taste, food preparation and everything related to nutrition. “Food and drink also create lasting memories that can shape the travel experience.”

He says he works to give the world a taste of African hospitality, and in doing so, he has come up with a product known as Jiranileo that basically aims to create a new narrative about modern African life. .

“Jiranileo is a way to connect people around the table to meet, listen, learn and share their stories and give a taste of today’s Africa to your neighbor, your friends and the world”, he said.

Mr Ndunguru says that thanks to the home-cooked food business across Africa, they find the best hosts, in neighborhoods you might not know, who cook the foods you won’t find in restaurants. and offer you a place at their table to eat together.

He said that one of the requirements to be in business was to have a license for his operations which he notes he could not obtain “because the government did not have his type of business in his. wallet and therefore could not issue a license “.

“I was very disheartened when I learned this, especially as I grew slowly over the past two years and invested time and money in the business, and if a day the government decides that it cannot respond to my sector of activity, what happens with the investment, ”he declared.

He noted that there was a need for awareness of both the public and the government to be able to promote it.

On the issue of taxation, he said his business was neither a restaurant nor a catering business and that for the past two years he had invested with little profit and therefore hoped that he would be taxed in depending on what it produces.

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