INNOVATION and sustainability of markets are two words that are synonymous to development irrespective of industry and sector. It is believed that for tourism industry to become successful, domestic, and international tourism should complement each other.
But domestic tourism in many developing countries is nearly non-existent, with local residents mainly visiting friends and relatives. In many developing countries, tourism potentially constitutes one of the fastest growing sectors.
Basically, tourism is one of the top five export categories for 83 per cent of all developing countries and the main sources of foreign currency for at least 38 per cent of them, according to statistics from the World Trade Organisation. According to the 2011 Ethiopian Journal of Environmental Studies and Management, tourism industry in Tanzania seems more promising among several sectors of production.
For example, the balance of payment statistics compiled by the Bank of Tanzania shows that receipts on the travel account (regarded as a close proxy for tourism earnings) represented 40 per cent of total exports of goods and services in 1998/99 compared with 25 per cent in 1995.
Moreover, about 25,700 jobs were created along with raised foreign exchange receipts by 35 per cent in year 2000 compared to 1995. It also contributed over 16 per cent of GDP in year 2004 which is equivalent to 746.02 million US Dollars earnings per year.
The South Africa Tourism has recently teamed up with a Tanzanian public relations company, Frontline Porter Novelli, a partnership that will help provide a good platform for people in the tourism industry in the country share experiences and learn about newer and innovative ways of promoting Tanzania.
South Africa Tourism recently organised the sixth annual e-Tourism Africa Summit in Cape Town to work with, and show, the tourism industry how best to take full advantage of the fastgrowing digital and social media ecosystem.
"The online environment has yielded phenomenal results for our destination," says Thulani Nzima, Chief Executive Officer at South African Tourism. "This event has become a highlight in the tourism calendar.It's exciting to note how receptive the South African trade is to using digital to grow their businesses."
Today, South Africa has a very dominant and valued online presence on global travel platforms like Trip Advisor and WAYN.com. As an extension of this success, all online sales (via Expedia and affiliates) now exceed R770 million annually.
Another digital asset that performs extremely well is the South African Tourism website, attracting over 3.2 million online visits a year, influencing many people to travel to our shores, thanks to a well defined content strategy that's geo-targeted at specific interests of consumers in 18 different markets around the world.
In 2012 over 200,000 people booked their trips online to South Africa. These online purchases (inclusive of Expedia and other South African Tourism's Online Travel Agent partners) resulted in more than R790 million for our economy, and the industry. Of these 200 000 trips, more than 186 000 were booked by international visitors.
To illustrate this growth, the total gross bookings from Expedia grew 11 per cent to more than R505 million in the first six months of this year. "It's results like this that matter," Nzima says. "However, we don't only track the revenue, but also the accolades achieved along the way.
In 2011 TripAdvisor users voted Cape Town Global Destination City of The Year, and this year Cape Town topped the TripIndex Rooms Service survey for the extraordinary value for money it offers visitors. South Africa has the largest following of any destination on the social media travel community platform WAYN. com, supported by over 415 000 friends.
When WAYN.com users were asked to vote a few months ago, they said South Africa was their 'Dream Destination of the World'. South African Tourism's combined trade and consumer-facing Facebook pages and Twitter feeds have over 747,000 friends and followers.
These people and businesses keep track of what's happening in South Afric a, they look out for suggestions of new experiences, and they post stories and share pictures of their own South African holiday online for others to enjoy. For South African Tourism, digital marketing also extends beyond websites and social media platforms.
Other high-tech digital tools are also used to again improve the level of engagement between the tourism industries, like INDABA Connect. At INDABA, a marketing drive to promote South Africa and the southern African region to the world, this year the INDABA Connect Poken technology encouraged and facilitated over 12,000 connections and 286 000 virtual business cards that were exchanged between over 10,000 delegates.
An official from Frontline Porter Novelli said that there was much to emulate from South African tourism particularly in the marketing of its attractions citing for example the Jo'burg City Festival that took place late August. The week-long celebration offered Joburgers and visitors alike a fantastic opportunity to experience the city at its best.
It was mammoth collective effort, presented by innercity hotels, restaurants, bars, museums, party venues and tour operators, among others. "Joburgers saw their city like they have never seen it before - the dynamic, diverse and exciting city where you can experience the best of South African society and culture. It is such activities that Tanzania can borrow from their tourism counterparts," the official said.
The official announced that six lucky journalists had been selected to travel to South Africa next month to experience and get the feel of the country and that more such trips would be organised to help the journalists write what they have seen with their own eyes.
Since the demise of apartheid, international tourist arrivals have surged, making tourism one of the fastest growing sectors. The tourism industry is well established with an exciting sector of emerging entrepreneurs. The country is strong on adventure, sport, nature and wildlife travel and is a pioneer and global leader in responsible tourism.