DAR ES SALAAM, Tanzania (eTN) – Failure by Tanzanian government authorities to design and strategize plans that would put this African tourist destination in Southern African World Cup tournament map had automatically created doubts whether this nation will benefit from Africa’s first and historic soccer event.
Tourist stakeholders in Tanzanian Indian Ocean coastal city of Dar es Salaam and the northern tourist hub of Arusha have been frustrated by the government’s failure to join other regional members in promoting the country during the 2010 FIFA World Cup.
Up to this day, no stringent plans and serious campaigns have been made by the Tanzanian government to attract soccer fans, teams and tourists coming for the World Cup in South Africa to skip north and visit Tanzania.
It is only three hours flight from Johannesburg in South Africa to Dar es Salaam or four hours flight from other South African cities to key tourist sites in Tanzania.
Despite South African tourist companies holding best lodges in Tanzania, authorities here have done nothing or little to campaign for the country’s tourism collaboratively with South African firms, like the giant South African Breweries Limited (SAB).
No response or comments from Tanzanian government authorities about the country’s plans on World Cup benefits to its tourism industry.
Tourist stakeholders in Arusha are now looking at Kenyan partners to benefit from the World Cup event.
Unlike, Tanzania, other neighbors to South Africa and Kenya in the north have launched their campaigns to reap from the World Cup tournament. Kenyan and South African governments have entered into a partnership that will see the two countries collaborate in the promotion of the tourism sector in preparation for the 2010 World Cup.
Kenyan Tourism Minister Najib Balala signed a bilateral agreement with his South African counterpart, Marthinus Van Schalkwyk, that will enable the two countries cooperate in strategic areas like sharing data and increasing investments in the sector.
Balala said Kenya is also looking forward to learning from South Africa on how to advance its tourism particularly at a time when its preparing to host the 2010 World Cup and on full participation at Africa’s leading INDABA tourism fair next year.
Zimbabwe has taken a leading role among other countries to ensure maximum benefits from the World Cup. The general manager of the Zimbabwe Tourism Authority Conference and Exhibition, Ms Tesa Chikaponya, said the 2010 World Cup in South Africa creates an opportunity for the Zimbabwean cultural industry to showcase its ideals as well as harness economic developmental goals.
She urged the business community to be innovative and go beyond improving the already existing goods in order for them to claim their share of big business expected to be generated by the 2010 World Cup to be hosted by South Africa.
Zimbabwe recently hosted a Southern Africa Development Community (SADC) conference on tourism development as the region moves to craft ways on how it can draw maximum benefits from South Africa’s hosting of the 2010 World Cup.
Mozambique, on its side, had taken a various steps to benefit from the World Cup. The Mozambican parliament has voted to ease restrictions on the gambling industry, aiming to boost tourism as neighboring South Africa hosts the World Cup next year.
The law, which was passed unanimously, reduces the investment required to open a casino from 15 million dollars (10.6 million euros) to eight million dollars. It also legalizes electronic gambling and slot machines outside casinos, and transfers regulation of the gambling industry from the finance ministry to the tourism ministry.
Mozambique legalized casino gambling in 1994, but initially required casinos to be based in luxury hotels with at least 250 rooms.
The recent law scraps the minimum room requirement and loosens restrictions on the areas where casinos can be built.
The approach of the World Cup has sparked a competition within Southern African region to attract teams and tourists to their countries in the downtime surrounding the games.
Mozambique is spending millions of dollars on infrastructure projects in anticipation of the World Cup. Officials hope to attract one or more teams to train here before the tournament, bringing with them contingents of staff, family, journalists and fans.
In Botswana, a hotel developer aims to tap into World Cup overflow. At its half-year results briefing, BSE-listed RDC Properties Limited said construction of Holiday Inn Gaborone in the new Central Business District (CBD) was being fast-tracked to enable Botswana to take advantage of overflow tourism from the 2010 FIFA World Cup in South Africa.
The company said the completion of the four-star hotel and re-introduction of the Holiday Inn brand in Botswana would see South African hotelier, African Sun Limited, enter the local market for the first time.
The 157-room hotel is part of RDC Properties’ Masa Centre which will become Botswana’s first mixed use development housing and entertainment centre with cinemas and a number of retail shops.
The Zambian government, on the other hand, is exploring the possibility of increasing the frequency of flights between South Africa and Zambia by South African Airways (SAA) to maximize on benefits to accrue from the 2010 FIFA World Cup games, Tourism, Environment and Natural Resources Permanent Secretary Teddy Kasonso has said.
Zambia’s Zambezi Airlines has launched its Lusaka-Johannesburg route with the government commending the airline for introducing the regional flight. Zambezi Airlines chairman Maurice Jangulu said the acquisition of two Boeing 737-500 aircraft to service regional routes will add value to the Zambian economy through tourism.
He said the launch of the Johannesburg route would contribute to boosting tourism and attracting 2010 World Cup visitors from South Africa into Zambia.
Namibia also has taken steps in promoting the country’s tourism and has been given its tourist board, the Namibian Tourist Board (NTB) a total of Namibian dollars (N$) 10 million to ensure that the country is one of the preferred destinations for those coming for the World Cup 2010 event.
NTB has earlier warned of too much expectation from the World Cup, saying the trick is to look beyond the event.
“We can leverage off the soccer World Cup 2010, but we have to manage our expectations. If we are not positioning ourselves, there is very little we can get from World Cup 2010,” NTB’s Strategic Executive, Marketing and Research Shireen Thude said.
The tiny Kingdom of Swaziland had launched “Visit Swaziland” campaign. Tourism and Environmental Affairs Minister Macford Sibandze launched the “Visit Swaziland” campaign at the (South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) Johannesburg last month.
Sibandze said his ministry would be embarking on an aggressive campaign to market the country to the world, starting with neighboring South Africa.
He said the tourism ministry would be adopting aggressive marketing strategies to promote the country, which would be encompassed in the “Visit Swaziland Campaign whose slogan is “Painting the World Swaziland.”
He noted that tourism was one of the key sectors in which the kingdom seeks to maximize its benefits from South Africa’s hosting of the FIFA 2010 Soccer World Cup. In that regard, the tourism ministry, in a collaborative approach with the Swaziland Tourism Authority (STA), would host a media launch in South Africa, one of Swaziland’s regional main source market, to create awareness of the country so as to increase the number of arrivals targeting 2010 and beyond.
Malawi, the other member of SADC, has launched its World Cup 2010 tourism campaign by increasing its hotel rooms capacity.
Malawi’s director of tourism, Isaac Katopola, has said the country stands a better chance to benefit from South Africa’s hosting of the 2010 World Cup since there are 55,000 FIFA delegates expected to come for the event.
Malawi, which is only two hours away by air from South Africa, will host some of them. “Out of this number of delegates, 35 000 accommodation rooms have already been contracted out and since the process will go on until the year 2010, Malawi stands a better chance to get FIFA delegate,” said Katopola.
He said there is also a possibility that others might want to take a breather away from the “Rainbow Nation,” South Africa after some games and take a chance to visit “The Real Heart of Africa,” Malawi.