IT is already almost two years now since the Tanzania Royal Tours documentary film was first premiered in USA and later in major cities of Tanzania, but this 56-minute-long documentary is still a regular feature in some Television stations, very much widely referenced, a popular presentational material and has become one of the country’s main promotion and branding video.
And all these deservedly are for a good reason. Indeed, the film is said to have brought hope, relief and all smiles again to the tourism industry which had received a knock due to several factors including the headwind effects due to Covid-19 which forced visitors from some of our tourism source markets to stay put indoors.
The Royal Film documentary has immensely contributed to the bouncing back of the tourism industry. And numbers don’t lie.
Recent statistics released by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) show a sharp rise of inbound tourist arrivals to 1,175,642 between January and October last year compared to 716,741 to the same period in 2021.
This is by no means a small feat. And when combining with domestic tourism statistics, Ministry of National Resourses and Tourism (MNRT) puts the number of tourists to be around three million which suggest very clearly that the country’s target of reaching five million tourists by the year 2025 is very much within sights.
This is not the case of blowing own trumpets. Recently, even the United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) made the same observation on Tanzania’s tourism number meteoric rise.
They said the number of tourists increased from 250,000 in the first quarter of 2022 to more than 400,000 between January and March this year prompting the UNWTO to rank Tanzania second after Ethiopia.
It is however important to hasten to clarify here that the ranking mentioned here is in terms of the rate of increase of tourists for the period under review and not the overall number of tourists arrivals, since there are other countries in Africa with far bigger overall yearly number of inbound tourists.
The Royal Tour documentary film programmes is a brainchild of Peter Greenberg, a travel editor for the Columbia Broadcasting System (CBS News), a well-known frontline news journalist and an Emmy -award winning radio and TV host. Some of other countries that he has co-hosted the programme with countries’ leaders include Mexico, Israel, Ecuador, Rwanda and Poland.
According to Peter Greenberg, these programmes which are also aired in Amazon TVs and Apple TV+ offer countries to boost their tourism unique opportunities to showoff their features to millions of potential travellers.
He admits that although he has co-hosted interviews with many other leaders, he has never had a good leader-guide like President Samia Suluhu Hassan.
The Tanzania royal tour programme came at an opportune time when President Samia in all earnest intended to open Tanzania to the world in terms of economics and diplomacy.
This is one of the reasons that President Samia had to guide the filming and record as in the documentary. (I have deliberately used the word guiding instead of the word starred since this is not a melodrama type of a movie but rather a serious documentary film) President Samia said, “…What I am doing is to promote our country Tanzania internationally.
We are going to film attractions sites. Potential investors will get to see how Tanzania is really like, areas of investment and different attractions sites…”
The documentary showcased Tanzania’s unique culture and history preserved in various places including the historical rich towns of Zanzibar, Bagamoyo, Dar es Salaam and Kilimanjaro to name but a handful.
The Tanzania Royal tours documentary film is more than just an ordinary social media tourist marketing commercial. It was about the country, the culture, its resources and its most important assets i.e., its people.
The film greatly managed to publicise the countries’ tourism and investment opportunities as evidenced not only in the increase of number of inbound tourist arrivals, but also in investments programs and mega projects currently underway in many parts of the country.
It is a film that embodies and showcases almost everything that the country is endowed with.
Looking at the sub-themes of the documentary, one gets an insight of how expertly the country has been showcased and very much inline with the promotion and branding slogan of Tanzania Unforgettable of which we need not lose sight of.
It is also important for our promotion experts to continue promoting the issues presented in the film itself rather than focusing more on its title. Well thought out efforts have been made to showcase our country.
Technically, tourism is trade in services, and this include among others, hotels, travel agents, tour operators, tourist guides services, conferences or MICE (Meetings, Incentives, Conferences and Exhibitions) as experts prefer to call it. So whither the tourism industry now after the recent success and what must be done to support this well guided promotional drive of this documentary?
To consolidate the gains achieved from this successful promotional initiative through the documentary tour, the industry through the MNRT is diversifying tourism activities first geographically and secondly through identification of new tourists’ products.
Geographically, by exploring new attractions in other parts of the country in addition to the northern tourist circuit which now appears to be somehow congested.
And looking for new products to avoid over-dependency on wildlife and nature-based tourism which at present constitute the bulk of the country’s revenues accrued from tourism activities.
However, in addition to the often-discussed alternative tourist products such as culture tourism, beach tourism cruise tourism etc. another possible money spinner tourist product not given much attention is the events tourism.
Events tourism essentially means any tourism that relates to events. Some scholars include Entertainment tourism in this category too. These are such events of international standards that attract big numbers of local and international participants.
Zanzibar has greatly excelled in this category by organising big events such as Kizimkazi Festivals, Film Festivals Music festivals some of which are world acclaimed. Conference Tourism (MICE) also falls in this category.
The likes of Kili-Karibu fair organised in Arusha/Kilimanjaro and Swahili Expo (S!TE) by the Tanzania Tourism Board (TTB)due to begin this October are also worth mentioning promotional initiatives.
Infrastructure development and training of key personnel in the tourism and hospitality industry at all levels including the managerial level (and training in major events management) is also equally important to reap the maximum benefit of the Royal tour initiatives.
Last March, The Tanzania’s National College of Tourism signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with South Africa’s Tshwane University of Technology on tourism training matters including in areas of hospitality and events management.
Another MoU on tourism cooperation at the ministerial level between the two countries is due to be signed soon. Tourism is regarded as a very sensitive undertaking and therefore the issue of security is of utmost importance for the industry to continue thriving.
It is however important to emphasise the point that security does not necessarily mean only to see the guns are silent.
For tourism, security issue is broader and encompasses peace of mind and hospitality for visitors from the point of entry, during the stay up to the time of departure.
Lastly, it is worthwhile to point out that as we embark on the diversification program of our tourism products, it is important not to lose sight of the fact that wildlife tourism is still the backbone of the tourism industry, it will continue to be so for some time to come.
It is where our main strength lies now. And the other tourism products currently being developed and identified need to be supported up to the level when they will gain proper foothold.
In the meantime, we continue with rigorous conservation methods to ensure success in wildlife tourism and our pristine environment.