Tanzania Association of Tour Operators (Tato) is currently working round the clock with 300-plus strong members, to roll out a red carpet treatment for dozens of global travel agents as soon as possible.
“We are working extra hard to implement the just ended Tato members’ annual general meeting resolution of bringing dozens of global travel agents, at our own costs, as part of a new strategy to market destination Tanzania,” the association’s CEO, Sirili Akko said.
This comes as a surprise move, as the tour operators attempt to diversify their marketing strategy in order to attract more visitors and boost tourism numbers to survive the onslaught of cutthroat competition from other destinations, in the advent of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Indeed, tourism industry analysts say that the move, suggests a historic shift in marketing strategy, as traditionally tour operators’ approach, has been skewed towards travelling abroad to promote the country as a favourite destination.
Chairman of Tato, Wilbard Chambulo floated the idea of inviting leading global travel agents at the AGM which members unanimously agreed by passing a resolution to that effect.
“Tato has conceived an idea to change its marketing strategy because it makes more economic sense to bring home major global travel agents to get a glimpse of what we have as a country,” Chambulo said adding that the move will better attract tourists from niche foreign markets.
Tanzania reopened its airspace for international passenger flights in June this year after a three-month hiatus due to the Covid-19 pandemic hence becoming the pioneer country in East Africa to welcome foreign tourists.
Latest statistics from the state-run conservation and tourism agency shows that France is leading in terms of number of tourist arrivals for the past three months covering July, August and September 2020.
Tanzania National Parks Authority’s Assistant Conservation Commissioner in charge of Business Portfolio, Beatrice Kessy, said records indicate a total of 3,062 French tourists visited the country during the period thus putting the European nation as a top international tourists market for the country overtaking the US which had 2,327 holidaymakers.
Other key sources of foreign tourists currently thronging the country include Germany with 1,317 visitors, UK with 1,051, Spain was fifth with 1, 050 holidaymakers and India had 844
The last top ten countries on the list included Switzerland with 727 tourists, Russia was eighth with 669 visitors, Netherlands had 431 and Australia brought in 367 vacationers during the period under consideration. Tourism is Tanzania’s largest foreign exchange earner, contributing an average of over U$2 billion annually, which is equivalent to 25 percent of foreign currency earned by the state.
The sector also contributes to more than 17.5 percent of the nation’s gross domestic product while creating more than 1.5 million jobs directly. According to United Nations World Tourism Organization, the industry has been worst hit by the virus hence needs urgent bailouts from governments.
The UNWTO estimates loss of 850 million to 1.1 billion international tourists, which translates to between U$910 billion and U$1.2 trillion in export revenues from the industry with an estimated between 100 and 120 million direct jobs, lost.