By Elias Mhegera, Beijing – African journalists have been counselled to enhance tourism in their continent through provision of online data. The call came in the wake of a seminar with the Chinese hosts.
Through the discussions it was revealed that Africa has a lot of potentials in the tourism industry but there are a series of shortcomings that must be worked upon in order to rectify this situation.
Speaking to a team of 28 visiting media practitioners from Africa, Mi Han the deputy director of the China National Tourism Administration responsible for marketing and international co-operation department for Asia, Oceania and Africa Division disclosed what his department has observed so far.
While appreciating that Africa has a rich resource of wild animals which attracts tourists not only from China, but worldwide, he mentioned the shortcomings in the following aspects: scarcity of online data, power supply and environmental degradation in some areas.
Other shortcomings are poor infrastructure both physical and soft. In the physical category there are transportation networks like roads and vehicles, but also power supply and internet facilities while in the soft infrastructure there are shortcomings like language barriers in some cases, but also lack of training in the hospitality industry.
“There are other aspects that must be worked upon even if they are not taken seriously, issues like availability of public toilets, environmental protection, reliable communication and security, to hygienic conditions cannot be ignored, as they carry weight in so many ways,” he commented.
He mentioned other important components as favourable tax regimes to investors in the industry and a number or chain of quality tourist hotels. He also mentioned co-operation through regional arrangements, good immigration policies and ministerial co-operation.
He mentioned the closest ally bodies to the promotion of tourism as authorities dealing with investments, media and the ministry responsible for commerce. Moreover, other supporters could be regional arrangements like the integration and economic co-operation bodies, and international conferences held in a country.
He also recognized importance of either attending occasions like the 2017 International Year of Sustainable Tourism for Development ongoing preparation summits and whatever will follow thereafter. But also there are exchanges of information with ministries from other countries, civil aviation but also travels store and agencies.
He boasted that his country has been holding higher ranks in the world tourism destination according to the United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO). In confirmation The Citizen observed that China is ranked at the fourth position after France, the United States and Spain in the November 2016 edition.
China has been ranked as the leading country in domestic tourism in the category of developing countries other countries being India and Indonesia. In the African continent available data indicate that there have been increase of 1.8 percent in the past three years from 2014, in the Sub-Saharan Africa while there has been a drop of -102 in Northern Africa,
The Wikipedia report of 2014 indicates that African tourism potential is underutilized with an exception of South Africa but the normal rate is slightly above 50 percent, domestic tourism being the worst case. It clarifies one of the biggest reasons could be low income to majority of the people.
Generally, the UNWTO report November 2016 edition indicates that the world welcomed 956 million international tourists between January and September 2016, this being an increase of 34 million tourists in the same period of 2014, the increase rate being four percent.
When she was reached for comments the Tanzania Tourist Board (TTB) Managing Director Ms. Devota Mdachi said that Tanzania was still doing fine although she admitted that there is a demand of more promotion still.
She gave statistics of comparing the past ten years she said that in 2005 Tanzania was visited by 612, 754 visitors who cashed in US $ 823.0 million equivalent to TZS, 929,058 million. While ten years later in 2015 there was an increase whereby 1,137,182 tourists visited Tanzania cashing in US $ 1,901.0 equivalent to TZS 3,774 million
Sharing his experience in how China has ventured in village tourism Mr. Jin Tong assistant general manager of the Caissa touristic company revealed that there is an importance of conducting wide research on what should be invested in the rural setting in order to attract tourists both international and domestic ones.
He suggested that cultural tourism is more suitable for village tourism but there must be good transportation networks and well trained tour guides. Other attractions could be water cruising, outdoor recreations, sports and group tourism.
His views were shared by Ms. Li Hewei Caissa’s deputy general manager who said that South Africa, Egypt, Kenya and Tanzania are the most favoured countries for summer vocations but she counselled for joint international travels, and observation of demands by tourists based on each individual country demands.