TANZANIA (eTN) – In a heated debate over tourism development, members of the parliament of Tanzania had wanted the sitting government to increase the annual marketing budget allocated to the Tanzania Tourist Board.
The parliamentarians said Tanzania has been lacking behind on annual tourist visits (arrivals), accommodation, and air links, despite the higher position this African destination holds in a global tourism position.
They said the Tanzania Tourist Board (TTB) has the mandate to advertise and promote tourism but it faces a limited budget compared to competitive countries, and wanted the government to transform this marketing Board into a tourism authority that will promote and ensure efficient revenue collection from the travel industry to solve the challenge of limited promotional budget.
“This authority will improve revenue collection in the tourism sector and remove this marketing Board from dependence on grants from [the] Treasury,” said James Lembeli, Chairman of the parliamentary committee on natural resources and tourism.
The Tanzania Tourist Board faces a limited budget compared to other African tourist competitive destinations. Poor funding has held back the Board’s efforts in running global tourism marketing and promotional campaigns smoothly.
A member of parliament for the Mbulu area in northern Tanzania, Mr. Mustapha Akunaay, said this country ranks second in the world by its diversified tourist attractions, but holds a 110 rank in competitiveness.
He said poor marketing and a poor advertising budget is the cause of poor competition in selling this African safari destination to key market sources of Europe, the United States, and Asia, while new and emerging markets of China, Russia, Brazil, and Far Eastern states were left untouched.
The legislator argued that inadequate marketing funding had so far denied Tanzania more tourists. He wanted the Tanzanian government to re-brand a destination campaign and create a tourist development levy as an option to raise more funds to the marketing institution, the Tanzania Tourist Board.
Lucy Owenya, a legislator from the opposition camp, said other African destinations, including South Africa and Kenya, had their tourism marketing budgets allocated to meet promotional requirements.
She said Tanzania has been losing over 60 percent of its annual tourist revenue from air tickets sold by foreign airlines, since Tanzania has no own airplanes flying to key global market destinations compared with Kenya and South Africa, which are regional competitors.
Tanzania, on the other hand, depends on foreign registered companies in its tourist sector, ending to gain from park entry fees, concession fees from hotels, and airport taxes from ticket sales.
Tanzania was ranked second in the world by its tourist attractions, but placed at the 110 position out of 133 countries in terms of competition. Brazil ranked first in terms of tourist attractions in the world.
The members of parliament also advised the government of Tanzania to make tourism a priority area and allocate enough funds for advertising in order to beat the ongoing competition from other African countries, while looking at a quick possibility to open tourist marketing offices in some European countries, which have high tourist numbers, also to explore the emerging markets of China, India, Japan, South Korea, and Brazil.