“Visiting the pavilions manned by exhibitors from abroad I did not see attractions that match our country’s endowment, I take the challenge to market our natural resources after graduating,” says Naomi. According to their lecturer, Richard Kisasembe, the trio will qualify as tour guides or sales and marketing specialists after completing the two years diploma course.
The students turned up on the second day of the Fair to learn practically tourism marketing strategies. Karibu Travel and Tourism Fair is an annual event bringing together travel operators from east Africa region and the world. The objective of the fair was to facilitate the exchange of ideas, build alliances, network regionally and internationally, and bring global visibility to the thriving East African tourism industry.
The three students are concerned about the slow pace in which Tanzanians embrace tourism as a business. “Why should others continue to rip profits from our tourist attractions when we ourselves can do it. Just imagine some countries are selling Mount Kilimanjaro as their own heritage,” Jacqueline wonders. She is quick to say that she is not against outsiders investing in the tourism industry in the country but feels Tanzanians themselves should put in some effort.
Jacqueline has climbed to the top of Mount Kilimanjaro (19,344 feet) herself as part of the practical training at the College and is determined to sell and market Tanzania’s tourist attraction locally and internationally. “Reaching the top of Mount Kilimanjaro was one of the happiest moments in my life,” she adds. Her colleague Naomi Christopher has also reached the summit of Mount Kilimanjaro and says: “I cried when Mount Kilimanjaro did not qualify for the Seven Wonders of the World last year,” she confesses.
She says she mobilised a number of people to send as many messages as possible to vote for Kili. She discourages the use of the verb ‘climb’ in scaling the highest point of Africa, and says it makes it sound like a tedious job, and suggest the word ‘expedite’ instead. She says trekking Mt Kilimanjaro exposes one to seven different climate zones giving one the feeling of being on seven different continents.
The Chagga people reside in the cultivated zone and in the mountainous zone one finds a variety of unique plants and some of them only found in Kilimanjaro only. Then the moorland is dominated by dwarf trees, the alpine desert zone with interesting reptiles and lastly the ice cap. Carolyn is keen on marketing Tanzania’s wildlife and considers Serengeti, as the jewel of Tanzania wildlife crown.
Her selling point is the annual migration of more than one and a half million wildebeests, six hundred thousand zebras and three hundred thousand gazelles, moving in a gigantic herd, from the south east part of the park to the greener west and north and return again to the south in a clockwise cycle. Around the month of June, after the rains, the animals gather in large herds and then begin a long march away from the southern section of the Park.
A lecturer at the University of Dar es Salaam, Dr Winiester Anderson, agrees that Tanzania is unique-attractions. He cautions that these attractions for the moment pull thousands of international tourists and that most citizens have sampled the same destination attractions. She observes that most government owned institutions and private enterprises marketing Tanzania tourists attractions, direct most of their efforts to international tourism markets.
Dr Anderson, who has done a research on marketing domestic tourism in Tanzania, encourages the three students and the private sector in the tourism industry to mobilise local tourists. Her belief is that success in marketing of domestic tourism can elevate the sector to the same level as international tourism, especially during the times of global economic crisis that witness a long haul of international tourism to developing economies in Africa declining significantly.
Peter Mwenguo, the Chairman of the organising committee of the Karibu Travel Tourism is positive about the future of tourism in Tanzania. He quotes the latest tourism report of the United Nations World Travel Organisation (UNWTO), International tourists arrivals in the country grew by over 4 per cent in 2011, from 939m in 2010 to 980m.