By Elias Mhegera, Beijing – If Africa is to benefit fully from the tourism industry, there are a series of measures that must be put in place, starting from hard to soft infrastructure.
Experiences from China indicate that revenues collected from both visiting tourists from abroad and from domestic tourists could as well be collected likewise in Africa and Tanzania in particular where this reporter originates from if there is a strong will and proper mechanisms.
In the hard infrastructure category, roads and airlines should have a focus of this sector. For instance, a good backbone road infrastructure could attract even more tourists who want to visit isolated attractions like the Dr Livingstone’s house known as ‘Tembe’ in Tabora.
This is a traditional house that hosted the missionary and explorer during his visits to Tabora in his tracing of the slave route from Kigoma to Bagamoyo. The Tabora Municipal could put in place mechanisms of receiving tourists in the town and sending them at its Kwihara location.
This should as well entail well trained and motivated tour guides who can shift tourists from the municipal centre to the site location even with a simple form of transportation like the Bajaj tricycle; this can also involve private individuals with a keen interest in promoting their domestic tourism this now being the soft infrastructure aspect.
The fact that China which was considered as ‘closed’ from the ‘outside world’ is investing a lot in the media and for that matter; in cultural tourism it means something must be done in Tanzania as well, if tourism has to get a boost.
However this should be a combination of mainstream media and cyberspace as well. Recently the 22 touring journalists from Africa who will spend a year and their counterparts from Asia and Middle East were part of the invitees to the Ningxia Province Expo whereby various items from this autonomous province were exhibited.
The Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi hosted a number of diplomats, academicians, journalists and other visitors to the exhibition whereby traditional dances and video clips added more value to the event.
The chairperson of the Ningxia Autonomous Province Ms Liu Hui gave a brief history of her province and how it has managed to reach a self sufficient economy due to maximum utility of its own resources including tourism.
“In my province there is a big population of florists whose main source of income is through the selling of flowers and the like of cultivated agricultural products like sunflowers for oil production but also of doors with special brands of engraves,” she boasted.
But other attractions include the large halls for performance art just like what exists in Tanzania in the form of the prestigious ‘Taasisi ya Sanaa na Utamaduni Bagamoyo’ (TaSUBa) formerly the Bagamoyo College of Arts.
The construction of a modern hall facility in Ningxia which can accommodate 2000 spectators in a time has been a centre of performance art, acrobatics and Chinese traditional songs and dances. And this is not to forget the availability of pyramids, and camels which are used for traditional dances and caravans.
Some of the areas which had once been used as dumping site for solid wastes and sewerage have now been turned into stone forests.
This is after the water was cleaned various stones were used to make new attractive shapes with springs of water throughout the year; this has attracted various stocks of birds which were in the verge of disappearance.
Drawing from these parallels, one could add that traditional dances and domestic cultural attractions like the Bujora Sukuma Museum in Mwanza should be given a new impetus in order to reflect the new trends of global competition in each aspect of business.
In this aspect the Chinese government has addressed the demands accordingly including massive support to e-commerce, e-advertisements and e-talents whereby a good number of university graduates are now involved in advertising tourist attractions in their own websites.
An expert in e-business Liao Xuhui the CEO of China –Africa E-Business Platform Amanbo.Com says there is a growing number of youngsters who have even employed themselves working from their own home premises in this area.
“With the fast trend of development talents is key for one to support their entrepreneurship, hence e-commerce development is just supporting innovations which must be cultivated for in institutions of high learning,” he remarks.
A visit to various tourist attractions in China tells that domestic tourism cannot flourish through the efforts of the government establishments alone, but there must be a supportive private sector to give a hand to the government’s efforts which in turn must relax tax regulations to reliable and dependable supporters.
Also there must be a ‘Think Tank Support’ based on specializations which at the end of the day can facilitate for a smooth flow of tourism activities namely: tour operators, hotel owners, owners of telecommunications, Ministry of Works for the transportation network etc.