Prof. Dr. Wolfgang H. Thome
Information is coming to light from Arusha, that tourism stakeholders have sharply criticized the Tanzania Tourist Board over their decision to engage a South African company as partners to set up a rival tourism trade fair in Dar es Salaam. TTB was accused to have engaged the services of a company based in a rival country, described as a key competitor for tourists coming to Africa for a big game safari and the company chosen, Witch and Wizard Creative, was described as being more pro South African than pro Tanzanian.
The Karibu Tourism Trade Fair, held every year in Arusha in late May or early June – this year between the 31st of May and the 2nd of June [www.karibufair.com] – has over the past 13 years evolved into Eastern Africa’s premier international tourism trade show and is attended by a global buyer’s audience and exhibitors from not just Eastern Africa but countries like the Seychelles, Congo, Malawi, Zimbabwe and even South Africa, showcasing their attractions for outbound travel from Tanzania but also to set up business opportunities to send tourists to Tanzania’s national parks and beaches.
‘Me I don’t understand why TTB wants to set up the Swahili Tourism Fair in Dar. If they have only now woken up to find out what Karibu has achieved, they should be in full support and not just start a new competition fair in Dar because their offices are there. If Swahili Fair is for the domestic market, we do not need a foreign firm to promote and organize it, we have capacity to do that internally. But if they want to take a piece of Karibu for their own selfish ends, we shall oppose that. It would be wasting our scarce resources to invest in two trade fairs in one country. Companies will be pressured by them to take stands and yet Karibu has always been sufficient for them and for us as a country. This is not the activity we expect from TTB to promote our country but just activism. Someone maybe saw some opportunity to make money and had others buy into the idea.
Uganda has one small tourism show, Kenya has a domestic show at Sarit purely for resident travel and then the Magical Kenya Show of their tourist board. Someone is misguided here and they better listen to their stakeholders before they embarrass themselves and do us a lot of damage’ said a regular contributor closely linked to the trade association framework in Tanzania. Sources from Dar meanwhile have pointed to the proposed partnership of the Swahili Tourism Fair with South Africa’ INDABA, which has just ended in Durban, and which is widely acknowledged to be the largest continental tourism trade show in Africa, albeit heavily tilted towards South Africa and SADC countries, and for long having shut out their competitors from Eastern Africa before gradually changing policy. ‘Tanzania is a SADC member. We get over 25.000 visitors from South Africa every year and want to increase that number. For that reason we needed to get a South African company to help us tap into that market.
There is nothing sinister about the Swahili Tourism Fair and we expect a great inaugural event this October’ retorted a source from Dar es Salaam, close to TTB but unable to give a name for not being an officially sanctioned spokesperson for the organization.
Clearly two sharply opposed positions and in the interest of Tanzania Tourism it is hoped that the differences can be bridged and the difficulties overcome, so that both events, each clearly designed and positioned, can bring positive results for the country. Watch this space for regular and breaking news from across Eastern Africa.