Tanzania has been advised to focus on attracting faith based tourists from the US and other parts of the world as a way of diversifying the sector.
The advice was given recently by Lisa Simon, President of the North America’s National Tour Association (NTA) who was in Tanzania for a four-day training of tour operators in marketing the East African country in the US Market. ON this strategy, she said Tanzania could focus on cuisine, culture, language as well as wildlife adventure packages.
She said American people want authentic experiences –cuisine, culture, language, wildlife and many things that are available in Tanzania.
Explaining, she said faith-based tourism packages include mission groups as well as people of a shared faith who simply want to travel together.
“Through this strategy tourists can explore the faith history and heritage of Tanzanians, interact with local church communities, and volunteer with church and mosque projects, in schools and health centres,” she said.
A recent study carried out by experts from the industry showed that a third of Americans are interested in taking faith-based trips, she said, adding that as the Tanzania Tour Operators could focus on this interesting package.
She said: This is a USD18bn industry in the US. Faith-based” means different things to different tour operators and consumer groups – it doesn’t have to be a religious trip because many groups just travel together for the fellowship, so even if your product does not have specific religious elements, it may still appeal to these types of groups,” she said.
She also called on them to focus on ‘American Baby Boomers’--those born between (1946 and 1964) because they prefer to travel in smaller groups.
She said this kind of tourism has a great potential in the Tanzania market – “they are young at heart, more adventurous and savvier and experienced travelers.”
She said she is ready to support the government to ensure that it promotes what Tanzania has in the US.
Elaborating the types of travel package NTA tour operators offer to tourists visiting other countries, she said besides faith-based tourism they offer luxury package, adventure travel package, as well as family travel package.
The majority sell direct to consumers (as retail operators) while others sell to other tour operators and through travel agents, serving as wholesale or receptive operators.
She said NTA is the leading association for businesses serving travelers to, from and within North America and presently it has about 3,000 members in 44 countries.