It isn’t surprising that the Tanzania Tourist Board (TTB) has been making efforts at a renewed marketing drive, under the impression that the survey shows that the country’s attractions are well known abroad and what remains is some fine-tuning of sorts. They would want to take the country’s attractions to the doorstep of potential visitors in emerging markets – and why not?
A marketing drive is a good idea: a student in marketing would first have to sort out why it should be that Tanzania comes on top or near the top of the world’s map of tourist attractions (usually held to be only second after Brazil as the world’s most fascinating country) and still has relatively few foreign tourist arrivals.
Another way of looking at the matter is to compare countries with a much larger number of arrivals than ourselves and figure out what is missing so that our services or products offered (plus the wider environment) compared better with them. It is possible this is where the shoe pinches most, and not in familiarity as such; the survey shows the familiarity.
There is an expression to the effect that when one is in Rome one ought to do as the Romans do – in which case the issue is what tourists want or how is it that they feel attracted to one place rather than another.
As experience has thus far shown, the range of attractions is only part of the issue, as Mauritius for instance has only beaches to offer and perhaps some historical buildings in much the same way as Zanzibar but is more acutely noticeable when it comes to the relics and memory part of the matter.
That would also include Bagamoyo and Mombasa as having similar cultures, and that leaves us with a vast world of wild attractions, including scenery.
In like manner, the northern circuit would under better circumstances be a stand-alone tourist product attracting vast numbers of visitors, while hunters and other adventurers would take the ‘continent of the Selous’ as their prime area of interest.
It isn’t the rapid sightseeing of the northern circuit but, rather, a pristine jungle comparable to the Amazon basin in Brazil. So the question that ought to be answered first is why tourists flock to other countries, as getting more information to tourism markets without changing the products and environment of those products might not genuinely affect tourist numbers.
That question has yet to be raised as an issue of policy whether it is generally or in the relevant ministries; so let us try the marketing drive first.
As TTB officials are likely to visit many more places in the course of implementing that drive, their feedback will help in sorting out issues for some elements of redesigning the products, or improving the wider environment. The ball must keep rolling until prince is crowned king and princess is declared queen, so to speak.