Tanzanian tour operators plan to bring the key Global Travel Agents into Tanzania in their latest painstaking initiatives to promote the country as a safe destination, amid the COVID-19 pandemic, which has hit key tourism source markets hard.
Tanzania Association of Tour Operators (TATO) is currently working around the clock, on behalf of its 300-plus members, to roll out a welcome mat for dozens of travel agents, anytime soon.
“We are working extra-time to implement the just ended TATO annual general meeting (AGM)’s the resolution of bringing dozens of major Global Travel Agents, at our own costs, as part of a new strategy to market our destination,” the organization’s CEO, Mr Sirili Akko confirmed.
This comes as a surprise move, as the tour operators attempt to diversify its 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 endeavor, in fact, suggests a historic shift in marketing strategy, as traditionally tour operators’ approach, has been skewed towards travelling abroad to promote the country’s endowed tourist attractions to a greater degree.
TATO Chairman, Mr Wilbard Chambulo floated the idea of rolling out a welcoming mat to travel agents before the annual meeting and the members unanimously agreed and passed a resolution for the move to be executed with immediate effect.
“TATO has conceived an idea to change the strategy because it makes more marketing and economic sense to bring the travel agents to get a glimpse of the country’s bestowed natural attractions than our members to follow them overseas with still and moving pictures” Mr Chambulo noted.
Tanzania reopened its airspace for international passenger flights on June 1, 2020, after a three-month stint of COVID-19, becoming the pioneer country in East Africa to welcome tourists to sample its endowed attractions.
Latest statistics from the state-run conservation and tourism agency shows that France is leading in terms of number of tourist arrivals in Tanzania over the three months period covering July, August and September 2020.
Tanzania National Parks (TANAPA)’s Assistant Conservation Commissioner in charge of Business portfolio, Ms Beatrice Kessy, said that records indicate a total of 3,062 French tourists visited national parks in the period under review, raising the France’s flag high as the top international tourists market for Tanzania amid the crisis, overtaking the U.S.A with 2,327 holidaymakers.
The third on the list of key Tanzania’s tourist source markets at the height of World’s COVID-19 pandemic is Germany with 1,317 visitors, followed by UK with 1,051 tourists.
Spain, in fifth spot, has supplied Tanzania with 1, 050 holidaymakers, trailed by India with 844 travellers who sampled the country’s bestowed natural beauties.
Switzerland holds seventh position with 727 tourists, trailed by Russia in eighth place with 669 visitors, Netherlands with 431 travellers is in ninth slot and tenth being Australia for having brought 367 vacationers during the period under consideration.
Tourism is Tanzania’s largest foreign exchange earner, contributing an average of $2 plus billion annually, which is equivalent to 25 percent of all exchange earnings, the government data indicate.
Tourism also contributes to more than 17.5 percent of the national gross domestic product (GPD), creating more than 1.5 million jobs.
According to UNWTO, the tourism sector has been most hard-hit by the impacts of COVID-19 and hence need bailout and support for its reliance and recovery.
The UNWTO estimates Loss of 850 million to 1.1 billion international tourists, which amounts to Loss of $910 billion to $1.2 trillion in export revenues from tourism and consequently risk of loss of 100 to 120 million direct tourism jobs.
This is by far the worst crisis that international tourism has faced since records began (1950).