PROMOTING TOURISM THROUGH EMBASSIES ?!?
Tanzania’s tourism minister, elevated from the deputy position after the last election into the cabinet seat, something several stakeholders say is too much to handle for him, has dug deep into the arsenal of the command economy days when proposing last Friday that tourism promotion abroad should be handled through embassies, where ‘tourism officers will be posted’.
Considering that such almost ancient methods of tourism promotion only creates yet another layer of bureaucrazy – pun intended – and comparing other destination’s efforts how best to position their own country’s tourism attractions in the global market, stakeholders – while politely silent within Tanzania over the latest ‘state of the art proposals’ are quietly in disagreement.
‘Tourism promotion should be carried by a partnership between TTB and us’ said one regular source in Arusha while another from Dar es Salaam commented: ‘If the minister cannot find the money to give to the tourist board to carry out global marketing, how then will he find money to post a tourist officer in each embassy or high commission? Only a few days ago he admitted that money was in short supply and told TANAPA etc to share their funds with TTB. The private sector is willing to partner and carry its financial share but the other side has to be facilitate like us to succeed. If TTB has not enough money, how are they going to travel and pay for the big delegation of government functionaries doing trade show tourism at our expense.’
In contrast many tourist destinations have gone the extra mile to draw in the private sector, going as far as handing their tourist board organisations to a majority private sector set up, and in particular the success of the Seychelles stands out as a glowing endorsement of how to go about tourism promotion.
Across the border the Kenyan government has given substantially more money this year to the Kenya Tourist Board, after a record breaking year 2010, and across another border has Rwanda facilitated tourism and conservation under the Rwanda Development Board to turn tourism into the number one economic factor in that economy, 15 years after rising from the ashes of the genocide.
While wishing Tanzania as a part of East Africa’s tourism circuit all the best in promoting their undoubtedly many attractions, new thoughts and approaches are called for instead of returning to the 70’s repertoire.