Southern African tourism executives set to meet in Tanzania


DAR ES SALAAM, Tanzania (eTN) – Marketing and promotion of Southern Africa’s tourism assets, in the positive atmosphere after the World Cup tournament last year, will feature an array of related issues at the meeting of top tourism executives from fifteen member states of the Southern African Development Community (SADC).

The three-day working session will bring together top bosses and board members of the Regional Tourism Organization of Southern Africa (RETOSA) who will be meeting in Tanzania’s northern tourist city of Arusha from February 28 to discuss the current position of SADC tourism development and marketing strategies.

RETOSA Chairman and Permanent Secretary for the Zimbabwe Tourism and Hospitality Industry, Dr. Sylvester Maunganidze, said international sentiment towards Southern Africa was at its highest for 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. However, the influx of internationals also highlighted the urgency for a Univisa that could simplify tourist travel across member country borders,” Maunganidze said.

RETOSA is the SADC body responsible for the promotion and marketing of tourism in 15 Southern African member countries: Angola, Botswana, DR Congo, Lesotho, Madagascar, Malawi, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia, Seychelles, South Africa, Swaziland, Tanzania, Zambia, and Zimbabwe.

The RETOSA board meeting will be opened by Tanzanian minister for Natural Resources and Tourism, Mr. Ezekiel Maige, who will be delivering a keynote address on issues affecting tourism in the SADC region.

Some 40 representatives from the member countries will also have an opportunity to experience Tanzania’s tourist products including a visit to Ngorongoro Crater.

“Tanzania has many, unique tourist attractions of Mount Kilimanjaro, Serengeti National Park, Zanzibar island, Lake Tanganyika, Lake Victoria, and the Arusha National Park. We are proud to share them with our colleagues and friends,” Mr. Maige said.

RETOSA Executive Director Francis Mfune said the board meetings were held in a different member country each time to afford the host country an opportunity to showcase its unique attractions and promote intra-regional relationships, experience, and knowledge.

“The more we know of each other’s tourism products and heritage, the better [we] will be able to promote each other, which ultimately would lead to improved tourism across member countries,” Mfune added.

The 45th RETOSA board meeting will be preceded by an Executive Committee meeting on February 28.

Managed by representatives from national tourism authorities and private sector umbrella bodies in SADC countries, RETOSA aims to turn into a major economic driver for the region.

Based in Midrand, Gauteng, South Africa, the organization markets and promotes tourism in Southern Africa in close cooperation with the region’s national organizations and the private sector. Its strategic objectives include increasing the volume of inbound tourism and the creation of investment awareness for tourism development in the region.

Commenting on the meeting, Amant Macha, Tanzania Tourist Board’s Director of Marketing, applauded RETOSA’s decision to bring the Directors meeting to Arusha, christened “Geneva of Africa.”

He said Arusha has nice weather for holding conferences while delegates have opportunities to visit several tourist attractions just a stone’s throw away from the city. The Arusha residents are peaceful, always friendly, and always keen to welcome both holiday tourists and conference delegates.