Tanzania tour operators roll out red carpet for 15 travel agents

The agents mainly from the US, Croatia and Jamaica are sampling tourist attractions for 10 days to get first-hand experience

FRIDAY September 22, 2023

A business-to-bussiness forum between Tanzania tour operators and the visiting travel and tourism agents from the US, Croatia and Jamaica in progress at Four Points by Sheraton, Arusha Hotel, Tanzania, recently. PHOTO | PATTY MAGUBIRA

By Adam Ihucha

Tranquility News Correspondent, Tanzania

Tanzania has rolled out a red carpet for the high-profile foreign tourism and travel agents to explore the country’s untapped tourism opportunities, as part of its new marketing strategy.

Fifteen agents are currently in Tanzania sampling key tourist attractions under the auspices of Tanzania Association of Tour Operators (TATO) through its Tourism reboot program in partnership with Tanzania National Parks (TANAPA) and the Ngorongoro Conservation Area Authority (NCAA).

In their first leg in Tanzania’s northern tourism circuit, the travel agents had an opportunity to engage the tour operators in business-to-business forum, organised by TATO at Four Points by Sheraton, the Arusha Hotel, where they shared passwords on how to woo high-end tourists with their local counterparts.

The agents mainly from the US, Croatia and Jamaica are scheduled to sample various tourist attractions in both Tanzania Mainland and Zanzibar for 10 days to get first-hand experience for them to become conversant with the sites when selling them to their customers back home.

Mr Vlado Sestan, a travel Agent from Croatia, who visited the country 30 years ago, commends Tanzania’s tourism policy that prefers quality tourism — low tourists’ volume but with higher returns over mass tourism — saying the rule is a surest way for sustainable conservation.

A US travel and tourism agent (right) and a Tanzania tour operators meet during a business-to-business forum in Arusha, Tanzania, recently. PHOTO | PATTY MAGUBIRA

“Tanzania is in the right foot. Hold on to your tourism policy.  Attract low volume high-end tourists who pay more for your national parks to remain intact,” says Mr Sestan, as he cautions the country over mass tourism impairing the excellence.

He says Zanzibar is popular among Croatian tourists, given availability of low-cost airlines and cultural heritage the spice Islands have in store for tourists.

With a population of barely 3.9 million people, two million Croatians travel annually to sample tourist attractions elsewhere while 12 million foreign tourists flock to the country each year.

Sherise Mckinzie, the US-based Your Travel Planner Pro, says she has travelled overseas severally, but the diversity of beauty she has seen in Tanzania is the real one.

“Safety is a huge concern of the US tourists, Americans don’t like to travel with people they don’t know,” explains Ms Mckinzie, as she urges the Tanzania’s travel and tourism industry to invest in social media in a bid to attract as many Americans as possible.

Ms Denise Kubica, a travel and tourism agent from the US, does not regret travelling to Destination Tanzania claiming to have seen a variety of nature. PHOTO | PATTY MAGUBIRA

Ms Denise Kubica, also from the US, says though she had to push off her trip to destination Tanzania during the COVID-19 pandemic, she does not regret to finally make it, as she has seen a variety of nature.

Tanzania Association of Tour Operators (TATO), the Tanzania’s leading member-only group advocating for over 300 private expert tour operators is coordinating the visit as part of its commemoration of its 40th anniversary.

Through, TATO Tourism Reboot, the programme intends to complement efforts of the Tanzania President, Dr Samia Suluhu Hassan, in promoting Destination Tanzania overseas.

Dr Samia has invested her treasurable time in the Tanzania: Royal Tour film in which she assumes the character of a tour guide, commanding a significant number of tourists amid travel restrictions compounded by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The programme also intends to relieve TATO members of costs, time and other resources required for travelling all the way to market sources to promote their products, the TATO Chief Executive Officer, Mr Sirili Akko, says.

The Chief Executive Officer with the Tanzania Association of Tour Operators (TATO), Mr Sirili Akko, says the tourism reboot programme intends to cut costs, time and other resources for its members to travel to market sources to promote their products. PHOTO | FILE

“The idea of bringing in travel and tourism agents from the market sources creeped in during the COVID-19 when the industry was severely hit by the pandemic, crippling local tour operators financially to be able to travel abroad for marketing blitz,” Mr Akko explains.

It is understood, a local tour operator needs between $2,500 and $4,000 budget to travel to the source market for a week to sell his products at an international tourism exhibition.

“Out of 30 travel and tourism agents you might have talked to during the mission, very few, if any, will continue communicating with you,” reveals the Managing Director of Serengeti Balloon Safaris, Mr John Corse.

Mr Corse invites the travel and tourism agents from the market sources to experience destination Tanzania he referred to as a precious gem whose beauty is unconcealed especially when viewed aboard a balloon.

Since its inception over three decades ago, Serengeti Balloon Safaris boasts flying over 250,000 tourists to experience a different taste of Serengeti National Park.

The Managing Director of Serengeti Balloon Safaris, Mr John Corse, recalls how he unsuccessfully used to travel to market sources to promote the product. PHOTO | PATTY MAGUBIRA

“Unlike on the road, all what tourists see aboard a balloon is 100 per cent nature,” Mr Corse, says.

Tanzania National Parks (TANAPA)’s Conservation Commissioner William Mwakilema pledges to maintain the public-private-partnership in tourism promotion and conservation drive.

Mr Sanday Kitumi from Ngorongoro Conservation Area Authority (NCAA) assures the visiting travel and tourism agents of cooperation, recalling that the NCAA used to spend colossal amount of money on visiting the market sources.

Tanzania Tourists Board (TTB) Chairperson, Dr Ramadhan Dau, commends the idea of bringing the travel agents to experience Tanzania’s attractions first-hand, saying the move will work better than the traditional story-telling method.

Tanzania is home to number one Safari destination globally, as the country houses four of the most coveted adventure destinations on earth, namely Serengeti, Mount Kilimanjaro, Zanzibar, and Ngorongoro Crater.

Dr Ramadhan Dau, the Chairman of the Tanzania Tourists Board, is optimistic the TATO Tourism Reboot programme will pay dividends. PHOTO | COURTESY

The country is endowed with great natural sceneries ranging from wilderness to tropical forests, stunning coastline, rivers, waterfalls, great lakes, magnificent national parks and reserves, bustling cities offering non-stop ambiance, mountains, wildlife, and much more.

The TATO Tourism Reboot is an informative programme comprising seven to 10-day familiarisation trips around Tanzania’s most famous national parks and tourist attractions.

Besides seeing the plethora of national parks and understanding how they work for a magical itinerary, the trips also give participants a great idea of the varying activities and all the different accommodation options, to help them match the needs of their clients.

The travel and tourism agents from the market sources met TATO tour operators, accommodation and service providers in a business-to-business forumΩ

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