Tanzania Daily News (Dar es Salaam)

8 June 2014

Tanzania: Getting Technology Into Tourism

HUMANS are set in such a way that they have to see or feel something for them to believe it or get interested in it.

Take relationship, for example. Most individuals fall in love with people they actually meet and exchange physical contact and words. This is because it helps them to get to know the other person better.

The same applies to tourism. For a person to be interested in where they want to spend their vacation, then they have to see the destination before hand.

However, there are some exceptions, as, for instance, when one would just want to come to Africa because they have heard that it's a dark continent filled with black people, hence the desire to come to prove it personally.

And that's when technology comes in handy! It gives the world an opportunity to see what Africa, Tanzania in particular, has to offer.

It gives them the desire and appetite to come and see what the so-called dark continent really look like but they end up finding that, instead of it being dark, the continent has various rainbow-coloured nations, with marvellous people proud of their traditions and cultures, brilliant natural attractions and awsome breathtaking surroundings.

Technology helps give people a feeling of how a place is before they even get there. It is simply incredible and flexible.

Tourists can engage with their hosts before they even board the plane. Social media and the internet have helped quite a lot in creating this kind of interaction between tourists/ travellers and the countries they want to visit as well as what they would want to experience there.

Recently a group of 14 online influencers traversed South Africa with South African Tourism during the 2014 #Meet- SouthAfrica blogger's campaign, growing awareness of South Africa as a leisure destination among potential travellers.

Started in 2013, the #Meet- Southafrica campaign aimed at introducing South Africa's unique experiences to travellers through the eyes of travelling and lifestyle with a significant online following.

Thulani Nzima, chief executive officer of South Africa Tourism (SAT), said that "as a destination marketing organization, it's important we stay ahead of the curve when it comes o innovative marketing in the online space."

"#MeetSouthAfrica does exactly that, allowing travellers to see the world through the eyes of their favourite bloggers, websites, social networks, thus building up their appetite for visiting South Africa," he added.

A well known blogger in South Africa, Ishay Govenderypma of food and the fabulous, says that as a local blogger she fondly thanks SAT for the opportunity and investment put into promoting South Africa by giving her the eye-opening and enriching chance to travel to various parts of SA as she has found more reasons to be proud of her country and so much more to be explored.

Up to May 8, 2014, the #MeetSouthAfrica hash tag had gathered over 30m/- impressions on social media platforms such as facebook, twitter and instagram, she said.

Being the newest addition in this year's INDABA, Techzone offered fantastic insights into and information on travel technology; How the online and digital environment has fundamentally changed the face of how consumers look for, and buy, holiday destinations.

Highly knowledgeable techtalk speakers shared their insights with delegates for the duration of INDABA to help the travel industry make the most of the limitless opportunities that technology and the social media offer the industry for growth.

Mike Sharman of retroviral Digital Communications captivated delegates with his talk about the importance of good content in online destinations and product marketing. "There is little as important as gaining key insights to what your target market wants and needs and the people go looking for holiday information," he said.

"The best way of finding out what people want is to ask them. Find out what you were doing right and where one can improve.

Use what they tell you to hone your product and your marketing to deliver campaigns that get you real results," he added. Moreover, he believes that there is a new holy trinity in marketing consisting of digital, activations and public relations.

When one has the balance right, then the person has a great formula for telling the world about one's destination and getting the content out there where it will reach the right people, continued Mr Sharman.

He further said, "We invited mobile payment in Africa and Africa continues to be alive with opportunities that few other places enjoy. Africa has the beauty, the people,the views and the activities that tourists want to explore and share with others.

"When you consider that almost 100 per cent of travellers research holidays online before booking, and that pictures have become the new currency of persuasion, it's easy to understand why this continent is so compelling and so attractive to millions the world over."

"We have unique stories to tell here in Africa. The secret to digital success is to keep pace with a technical environment that's in constant flux and where consumers control both message and content," he added.

Tanzania has a lot of tourist destinations with an outstanding history from the leaders down to the citizens. And for it to harness its economy through the tourist sector, it should invest more in so many ways.

People should do the touring themselves first before they get into the tourism business. I mean how can one sell a product without knowing what its package has to offer.

Tanzania has much more to offer, it's high time for the government to collaborate with tourist agents and companies, without omitting the media, and ensure it is well marketed so that any tourist will find this as the destination they have to get to.

It is the joint organization and participation of all the stakeholders to help forward the tourist market in Tanzania and without forgetting that technology should not be left behind.

Just think what will happen to our tourist sector when we have all blogs, websites, social medias, companies and tour agents, print media having lots of features on tourism, radios and television have documentaries about the whole aspect of tourism.

We shouldn't let other people tell our story. Since we own the nation we know better about the marvellous story we have.

So, we are the ones to tell it better, at the same time preserving our traditions and culture. This can perfectly be done through tourism!

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