TATO rolls out red carpet for 15 global travel agents

ARUSHA: AT least 15 foreign travel and tourism agents are currently in Tanzania exploring the tourist allures, courtesy of Tanzania Association of Tour Operators (TATO).

Under the auspices of TATO, through its tourism reboot programme in collaboration with the Tanzania National Parks (TANAPA) and the Ngorongoro Conservation Area Authority (NCAA), the agents mainly from the US, Croatia and Jamaica are sampling Tanzania mainland and Zanzibar.

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 in Dar es Salaam and Arusha, where they shared the ways to woo high-end tourists with their local counterparts.

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

“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.

Ms 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, 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.

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.

It is understood, a local tour operator needs between 2,500 US Dollars and 4,000 US Dollars 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.

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 commended the idea of bringing the travel agents to experience Tanzania’s attractions first-hand, saying the move would work better than the traditional method of storytelling.

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