The marketing plan which is under implementation will be working to incorporate 14 member states of the Southern Africa Development Community (SADC) until the year 2002 when assessment will be made to determine the region's achievements in tourism industry.
Chief executive for the Regional Tourism Organisation of Southern Africa (RETOSA) Shepherd Nyaruwata, said Tanzania has been put on top list in tourism marketing plan because of its promising position in tourism growth of 13 percent per annum. Mr Nyaruwata visited Tanzania to assess its tourism development and its present position within SADC marketing framework.
" We are now looking at new marketing strategies which would see the Southern Africa region compete with other international destinations and creating other possible markets in the world," Nyaruwata said.
In total, SADC member states receive 55 percent of tourists visiting African continent every year. This year over 10 million tourists are expected to visit SADC regional member states, with South Africa and Zimbabwe taking a lead. South Africa is expecting to receive about 6 million tourists and Zimbabwe about 2.1 million tourists.
South Africa is expected to gain over US Dollars 3 billion from tourism during the same year followed by Mauritius US Dollars 504 million) and Tanzania ( US Dollars 500 million), respectively. Tanzania's position in both Eastern and Southern African economic bodies has been attributed to the rapid growth of its tourism business.
Mr Nyaruwata said a new tourism marketing brand ( logo) is being designed to market Southern Africa region as a single tourist destination indicating each member country's unique attractions. Serengeti National Park and Mount Kilimanjaro will highlight Tanzania in SADC tourism marketing logo and the Victoria Falls will market both Zambia and Zimbabwe.
South Africa will be represented by its unique features including the Table Mountains, wildlife and the Cape of Good Hope while Botswana and Namibia will be featured by the famous Okavango Delta. Swaziland and Lesotho are prominent with their unique African cultures all to be featured in the SADC marketing brand.
Marketing campaigns to sell tourism in SADC member states have been directed at primary and traditional European markets of Germany, United Kingdom, Italy and France. The United States of America and South Africa are the other potential market sources for the SADC regional tourism.
Tanzania's Director of Tourism Mr. Salehe said more efforts have been directed to promote the less developed Southern Tourist Circuit comprising the newly gazetted Udzungwa Mountains National Park, Mikumi, Ruaha, Selous wildlife parks, cultural and historical sites available in the circuit.
Tanzania's southern tourist circuit is the target area to attract tourists visiting other SADC countries. South African tourists are the most expected visitors to Southern Tanzania's tourist circuit which is easily accessible by a modern road and the Tanzania - Zambia Railway Authority (TAZARA) which connects the SADC states.
Development of tourist infrastructure and accommodation facilities are the most needed investments in southern tourist circuit. Apart from the 50-room Mikumi Wildlife Lodge inside Mikumi national park, the rest of parks and other sites have no permanent accommodation facilities.
About 140 tented camps offering 262 are the only available in Southern tourist circuit and the 800-kilometre Indian Ocean coastal stretch. Less than a dozen tour operators make their business in the southern circuit. Poor roads and lack of accommodation services have been identified as potential hindrances to tourism development in the area.
The five-year US Dollar 100 million World Bank financed Tourism Infrastructure Project (TIP) and the ten-year (1996 - 2005) $ 400 million European Union (EU) funded Integrated Tourism Masterplan have been established to develop the country's tourist industry mostly in southern circuit.
Implementation of the first phase of the Tourism Master plan has started this month. Tourism is the potential economic sector with an average growth of six percent per year, comprising 25% of the country's export earnings and over 7.5 % of the Gross Domestic Product. Any effort, be it national or regional, to boost tourism is welcome.