A Tanzania envoy to China has unveiled his ambitious plan as he seeks to increase the number of Chinese tourists visiting the East African country and the region at large.
It is believed that Tanzania has welcomed nearly 10,000 tourists from China in 2019.
According to the China Outbound Tourism Research Institute (COTRI) study, approximately 4.31 million Chinese visited Africa in 2018.
Mbelwa Kairuki, who met members of Tanzania Association of Tour Operators (TATO) in the country’s northern tourism circuit capital of Arusha recently, briefed the strategy and coached them on how to penetrate into the Chinese market with the world’s largest population of over 1.4 billion people.
Statistics by China Tourism Academy, a think tank under the Ministry of Culture and Tourism, shows the country has the world’s outbound tourism market, with 157 million Chinese nationals projected to visit other countries or regions this year alone.
A report released by the State Administration of Foreign Exchange in October last year says Chinese tourists spent $127.5 billion overseas in the first half of 2019.
The report says 54 per cent of the Chinese tourists’ expenditure remained within the Asian continent while 24 per cent went to the Americas, 13 per cent to Europe and the remainder to other regions, including Africa.
The Tanzania tour operators had, in the first place, to create an online booking platform specifically for promoting their tourism services in China, Kairuki said.
The platform with software for reservation management enables tour operators to accept bookings online using their mobile phone handsets.
The software also makes it easier for tourists to book anytime they want and gives tour operators room to concentrate on their services instead of calling their guests for reminders.
“The embassy is liaising with different players to create the platform for the Chinese tourists to make reservations online,” the envoy said.
Kairuki said the embassy was also in the process of creating a website specifically for promoting Tanzania’s tourist attractions in China.
The website, which would apply 5G technology, would be hosted in China. “The embassy is, in addition, liaising with a marketing firm in Shanghai to promote the website on the Chinese social media platforms,” he explained.
Kariuki called on all players in the industry to send particulars of their firms to the embassy for it to display them on the website.
The particulars include names of a firm, its e-mail address, website, phone number and a WECHAT QR code.
“The embassy pleads with every player in the industry to open a WECHAT account in a bid to facilitate your communication with your Chinese customers,” he said.
Owing to the China government banning WhatsApp, Facebook, and Twitter; WECHAT is a leading social media platform in the country. Also in use are WEIBO and QQ.
WECHAT, which is synced with financial and translation services, in addition to communication, is the Chinese favourite social media platform.
The envoy, who is also accredited to Vietnam, Mongolia and the Democratic Republic of Korea, further called on each player in the industry to make use of the website to promote the country’s endowed attractions.
“The embassy also urges all players to participate in the three-day China Outbound Travel and Tourism Market to begin on April 1, 2020,” Kairuki said.
Another show the players should never miss is the Shanghai World Travel Fair slated for April 23 to 26, 2020, along with a roadshow to be held during the same month, he said.
TATO CEO Sirili Akko welcomed the Kairuki’s strategy with an eye to penetrate into Chinese tourism market vigorously.
“Tanzania has myriad opportunities, including in tourism and investments. TATO members are ready to forge a partnership with their Chinese counterparts for mutual benefits,” he said.
John Corse, a tour operator from Serengeti Balloon Safaris, said: “This is an unprecedented move, we’re, indeed, grateful to Ambassador Mbelwa Kairuki.”
Currently, the statistics show that the number of tourists that toured in Tanzania in 2018 stood at 1.3 million and the Government is targeting to attract 2 million tourists in 2020.
Tourism is Tanzania’s largest foreign exchange earner, contributing an average of $2.5 billion annually, which is equivalent to 25 per cent of all exchange earnings, the government data indicate.
Tourism also contributes to more than 17.5 per cent of the national gross domestic product (GPD), creating more than 1.5 million jobs.