The Tanzania Association of Tour Operators (TATO) observed World Tourism Day by calling on players in the entire tourism value chain to be proactive in its painstaking efforts to see that nobody is left behind as the industry begins to rebound.

  1. TATO has been working around the clock to devise urgent measures to help revive tourism subdued by the coronavirus crisis.
  2. The Association has brought key global travel agents into Tanzania to explore and experience the country’s beauty.
  3. Its latest initiatives are to promote the nation as a safe destination amidst the COVID-19 pandemic.

“As the world begins to open up again, and the tourism prospects look bright, I wish to urge all stakeholders to position themselves to tap into the industry,” said TATO CEO, Mr. Sirili Akko, in a Tanzania’s Private Star Television’s morning talk show as part of the world’s tourism day fête.

Echoing the theme for 2021, Tourism for Inclusive Growth, Mr. Akko said TATO has been working around the clock to devise urgent measures to help revive tourism subdued by the coronavirus crisis in order to benefit all.

“We, as private sector drivers in close collaboration with UNDP and the government, have decided to develop tourism recovery measures. These include restoring traveler confidence by vaccinating all of our frontline workers, rolling out the COVID sample collection centers right on the national parks, deploying the state-of-the-art ambulances, and rethinking the marketing strategies in the height of the COVID-19 crisis,” he explained.

Indeed, TATO has brought key global travel agents into Tanzania to explore and experience the country’s beauty in its latest initiatives to promote the nation as a safe destination amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, which has hit key tourism source markets.

For TATO, an idea that makes more marketing and economic sense is to bring the travel agents to get a glimpse of the country’s bestowed natural attractions than for the tour operators to follow them overseas with still and moving pictures.

The maiden group of US travel agents, who are winding up their journey exploring the country, has been in Arusha, the designated safari capital city; Lake Manyara national park; Ngorongoro crater, dubbed the Africa’s Eden Garden; Serengeti national park to see the world’s remaining wildebeest migration; and at Mount Kilimanjaro, touted as the roof of Africa.

This comes at a time when the tourism industry faces unique challenges, compelling the tour operators to attempt to diversify their marketing strategy to attract more visitors and boost tourism numbers to survive the onslaught of cutthroat competition from other destinations with similar attractions in the advent of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Tourism industry analysts say that the endeavor suggests a historic shift in marketing strategy, as traditionally the tour operators’ approach has been skewed towards traveling abroad to promote the country’s endowed tourist attractions to a greater degree.

The pandemic has threatened the entire tourism value chain, created a context where the traditional means of communication and collaboration may be shifting more towards the digital than the physical ways and means, and has highlighted potential shortcomings in terms of business.

Furthermore, Tanzania tourism needs to navigate the opportunities and obstacles presented by a variety of social, environmental, and political considerations.

TATO, a member-driven trade association that promotes better tourism, is also playing a role of connecting businesses and individuals within the trade to facilitate knowledge sharing, best practice, trading, and networking across the industry.

George Tarimo, a chairman for small-scale hand craftsmen at Maasai Market in Arusha, said the COVID-19 pandemic has offered a lesson on the need to have sustainable Tanzania tourism value chain integration.

“As the tourism industry starts recovering again, we are just asking travel companies to embrace the Maasai market for carvings into your itineraries to get a cut of the growing market,” Mr. Tarimo noted, adding that the handcraft has been providing economic opportunities to thousands of people in the country.

According to the UN Education Science and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), handcraft is the second employer after agriculture in developing countries, mostly employing illiterate, semi-literate, and women.

The value of handcraft is estimated to stand at $34 billion a year globally and in Tanzania a tourist on average used to spend between $20 and $80 on handcraft, making it a jewel crucial to reduce poverty levels particularly among women and the youth.

Eliakim Laizer, a Board member for the Tanzania Cultural Tourism Organizers (TACTO), extolled TATO working in partnership with UNDP for its painstaking efforts to revive the key industry to spur other businesses, recover thousands of lost jobs, and generate revenue for the economy.

He pleaded with tour operators to help promote cultural sites for tourism to be inclusive.

“Cultural tourism is much broader than historical sites and curio shops. In this case, visitors have to be exposed to the typical lifestyles of the local communities; their traditional food, clothing, houses, dances; and so on and so forth,” Mr. Laizer noted.

Transferring dollars from international tourists to poor people living around tourist destinations has been a major challenge in Tanzania.

For instance, lots of dollars are generated from Tanzania`s world-famous northern tourist circuit, but very little trickles into the pockets of ordinary people who live in its vicinity.

According to the SNV study dubbed, “Tracing the Tourist Dollar in Northern Tanzania,” while the northern safari circuit attracts 700,000 tourists with combined revenues of nearly $950 million, only 18%, equivalent to $171 million, goes to the communities around, through the multiplier effects.

However, analysts say cultural tourism undertaking is the best model to transfer tourist dollars to the poor people than anything else in the tourism industry.

Foreign exchange earnings from tourism in Tanzania has dropped to a 10-year low during the year ending October 2020 thanks to travel restrictions imposed by several countries across the world in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Bank of Tanzania (BOT) figures show that Tanzania earnings from tourism in the period under review plunged by over 50 percent to $1.2 billion compared to $2.5 billion earned in the similar period in 2019.

The amount was last recorded in October 2020 when the country earned $1.23 billion from the tourism industry.

Wildlife tourism in Tanzania continues to grow, with nearly 1.5 million tourists visiting the country annually, earning the country $2.5 billion, the equivalent of nearly 17.6 percent of the GDP, cementing its position as the country’s leading foreign currency earner.

Additionally, tourism provides 600,000 direct jobs to Tanzanians and over one million others earn an income from the industry.