By Hazla Omar in Arusha
TOUR Operators and Hoteliers in East Africa will now benefit from huge loans disbursed by the Commercial Bank of Africa (CBA), which intends to boost the travel and hospitality industries in Tanzania, Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda and South-Sudan.
The timely decision by CBA comes just as Tanzania braces to accommodate more than two million foreign visitors come 2020, while the bank also moves to establish new branches in Juba.
“Arusha, being the pivotal precinct in Tanzania’s tourism and headquarters of the East African Community will be the first to benefit from the new loaning plan for tourism, stated Mr Gift Shoko, the Chief Executive Officer of CBA.
It was explained that most of the CBA bank customers in the region are either tour operators or hoteliers; “… we have thus decided to come up with special loaning scheme targeting players in the tourism and hospitality industries,” said Mr Shoko.
He explained that, investments in the tourism sector require large amounts of money, which means that CBA is arranging for ‘Single Borrowing Limit,’ of 50 million US dollars to a single applicant, enough to make any tour company float its business without problems as long as they have the right plan.
The loans will benefit tour operators and hoteliers in Kenya, where CBA has 40 branches and Tanzania with six branches. Other regional outlets are in Uganda with three branches and Rwanda as well as Ivory Coast, with efforts to establish other outlets in South-Sudan.
“In tourism the investments are heavy, take the vehicle fleets for example, a single equipment goes for not less than 200m/- and a company may take up to 100 vehicles,” pointed out Mr Shoko during the CBA Annual Customers day held at the Mount Meru Hotel in Arusha.
But it is not just tourism, according to the CEO; CBA also intends to introduce special packages to farmers and other agricultural entities in order to support the sector which has employed nearly 80 per cent of all Tanzanians, as the bank braces to establish a major branch in the new city of Dodoma.
Agriculture is the largest employer, the major producer of food and also the source of raw materials for the ongoing industrial revolution in the country as per fifth phase government’s policy.
Mr Julius Konyani, the head of CBA personal banking, refuted recent speculations that have been claiming that the financial institution was closing down some outlets in Mtwara, Tunduma and Kilimanjaro.
“Our branches are still intact and active and we are now expanding to Dodoma and Tanga, in addition to full-fledged bank outlets in Mwanza, Arusha and Dar es Salaam,” revealed Mr Konyani.