Monday, February 21, 2011

SADC think about single, comprehensive tourist destination

Natural Resources and Tourism minister Ezekiel Maige is scheduled to launch the 45th Regional Tourism Organization of Southern Africa (Retosa) board of directors meeting in Arusha on February 28.
Tanzania Tourist Board (TTB) marketing director Amant Macha told The Guardian in an interview recently that the meeting, expected to end on March 2, would address issues affecting tourism in the Southern Africa Development Community (SADC) region.
During the event, more than 40 representatives from SADC countries will get the opportunity to experience Tanzania’s tourism products, including visiting Ngorongoro Crater and other tourist attractions.
“As you know, Tanzania has many unique tourist offerings such as Mount Kilimanjaro, Serengeti National Park, Zanzibar, Lake Tanganyika, Lake Victoria and Arusha National Park,” said Macha.
The official said, his board and the ministry 'are proud' to share the tourist attractions with colleagues and friends from the SADC member countries.
Giving more details, Macha said, the meetings aims to investment opportunities and partnerships for developing the sector, particularly devising a joint marketing strategy for creating a multi-faceted, but single tourism destination.
The meeting will also discuss on creating a communication platform for member states and the target audience in order to enhance the region’s tourism and tourist confluence, including developing tourist attractions, changing perceptions towards the sector and promoting the region as a single, but multi-faceted destination.
Managed by representatives from national tourism authorities and private sector umbrella bodies in the SADC, Retosa aims to turn tourism into a major economic driver for the region.
“Based in Midrad, Gauteng, South Africa, the body markets and promotes tourism in Southern Africa in close cooperation with the region’s national tourist organizations and the private sector. Its strategic objectives include increasing the volumes of inbound tourism and the creation of investment awareness for tourism development in the region, he said.
Meanwhile, Retosa executive director Francis Mfune said Retosa board meetings were being held in a different member country each time to give host countries an opportunity to showcase unique attractions and promote inter-regional relationships, experience and knowledge.
He said, the more countries and people know of each other’s tourism products and heritages the better they are able to promote each other, which ultimately would lead to improved tourism across member countries.
“As I speak to you, members of the Retosa board of directors, Ministry of Natural Resources and Tourism, including Tanzania Tourist Board, are coordinators of the preparations for hosting the meeting in Arusha.
Retosa is the SADC body responsible for the promotion and marketing of tourism in member countries - Tanzania, Seychelles, Madagascar, South Africa, Angola, Swaziland, Namibia, Botswana, Mozambique, DRC-Congo, Lesotho, Malawi, Zambia, Zimbabwe, and Mauritius.
The board meeting in Tanzania will be preceded by a technical meeting comprising of directors of tourism and chief executives of national tourism organizations charged with the development and promotion of tourism.
According to Macha, the Retosa meeting would be host jointly by his authority, the Ngorongoro Conservation Area Authority, Tanzania National Parks, and Ministry of Natural Resources and Tourism.
Retosa chairman and Zimbabwe Tourism and Hospitality Industry permanent secretary Dr Sylvester Maunganidze said in remarks ahead of the meeting, international sentiments towards Southern Africa was at its highest in many years following the successful hosting of the 2010 soccer World Cup in South Africa and should be explored to capacity.
“The region proved that it was politically and financially stable while offering a unique and diverse tourism spectrum,” he said, noting that the influx of internationals also highlighted the urgency to simplify tourist travel across member countries.