SATURDAY March 6, 2021
By Adam Ihucha
Tranquility News Correspondent, Arusha, Tanzania
The Tanzania Association of Tour Operators (TATO) is in talks with a marketing agency in North America in its latest initiative to promote the country as a safe destination amidst the COVID-19 pandemic.
TATO under the financial support from the UN Development Programme (UNDP) is currently implementing a Tourism Recovery Strategy to revive the tourism industry for it to spur other businesses, recover thousands of lost jobs and generate revenue for the economy.
TATO, a 38-year-old advocacy agency for the multi-billion dollar industry, with 300 plus members across the natural resources-rich East African country, is currently engaging CornerSun Destination Marketing to undertake the marketing and promotion of Tanzania in the North American market.
CornerSun Destination Marketing is a New York-based consultancy focused on promoting national tourist boards to the North American market with a specialty in working with African destinations.
The firm provides full-service marketing, communications and strategic consulting services, including planning, training and long-term economic development. They have previously worked with Kenya, Uganda, Malawi, Zimbabwe, Botswana, Sierra Leone and Ethiopia in a similar capacity.
“Our talks are at an advanced stage and hopefully, we are going to ink the deal very soon to allow CornerSun Destination Marketing to hit the ground running in terms of a marketing blitz in North America,” said the TATO CEO, Mr. Sirili Akko.
Ideally, the company would, among other things, amplify the visibility of Tanzania’s tourism destination in the North American market to attract tourists from their end.
The marketing firm will also create awareness of Tanzanian tourism products among North American tour operators and travel agents to include the country into their itineraries.
“Basically, we intend to spur tourism business to individual TATO members by generating awareness and publicity of Tanzania as a destination in North America,” Mr Akko told a press conference.
“As private sector drivers, we have decided to develop tourism recovery measures, we are restoring traveler confidence by deploying a state-of-the-art fleet of ambulances and rethinking the marketing strategies in the height of COVID-19 crisis and for the future,” he said.
Quoting the UN Secretary-General, Mr Antonio Guterres, the UNDP Resident Representative, Ms Christine Musisi, said: “It is imperative that we rebuild the tourism industry, because it is one of the world’s most important economic sub-sector.
“To aid recovery, UNDP has in collaboration with the government and other partners adopted an integrated approach in a bid to build-back tourism in the new post-COVID-19 economic era with the concept of leaving no one behind.”
The approach in use include improving the environment for private investment and recovery of tourism value chain, strengthening institutional capacities in delivery of tourism sector services, facilitating access of affordable financial services and products for recovery and investment of SMEs (Small and Medium-scale Enterprises) in the tourism value chain, she said.
The Permanent Secretary in the Natural Resources and Tourism Ministry, Dr Aloyce Nzuki, commended the move, saying TATO had been a close partner of the ministry for nearly four decades now.
“The organisation and individual operators have spent enormous amounts of money in not only promoting their companies, but also the Destination Tanzania, thereby complementing the government promotional undertakings, coordinated by the Tanzania Tourist Board,” Dr Nzuki explained.
He added: “The move to promote Destination Tanzania in North America is very much welcomed and commendable” The PS believed the campaign would go a long way in tapping into the US which is one of the most significant tourist source markets for Tanzania.
TATO, a member-driven trade association that promotes better tourism, is also playing the role of connecting businesses and individuals within the trade to facilitate knowledge sharing, best practice, trading, and networking across the entire tourism value chain.
A fortnight ago TATO partnered with the Tanzania government in rolling out a Coronavirus specimen collection centre at Serengeti National Park to make COVID-19 testing easy and convenient for tourists.
Foreign exchange earnings from tourism in Tanzania has dropped to a 10-year low during the year ending October 2020, due to travel restrictions imposed by countries across the world in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Bank of Tanzania (BoT) figures show that Tanzania earnings from tourism for the period under review plunged by over 50 per cent to $1.2 billion compared to $2.5 billion earned during a similar period in 2019.
The amount was last recorded in October 2010 when the country earned $1.23 billion from the tourism industry.
Wildlife tourism in Tanzania continues growing, with nearly 1.5 million tourists visiting the country annually, earning it $2.5 billion, equivalent to nearly 17.6 per cent of its GDP, cementing its position as the country’s leading foreign currency earner.
Tourism provides 600,000 direct jobs to Tanzanians and over one million others earn an income from the industry.
As countries begin to recover and tourism restarts in a growing number of destinations, Tanzanian authorities have reopened its skies for international passenger flights from June 1, 2020, becoming the first country in the East African region to welcome tourists to visit and enjoy its endowed attractions.