Dar es Salaam. The Controller and Auditor General (CAG) report has revealed the Tanzania Tourist Board (TTB’s) weaknesses in promoting and marketing the country’s tourism products.
The weaknesses include slow adaptation of technological changes, failure to effectively harness regional market and potentials as well as inadequate capacity to promote and market the products.
Others are the shortage of promotion and marketing tools and technology, lack of promotion and marketing destination experts, budgetary constraints and shortages of processing staff.
The CAG’s performance audit report on development and promotion of tourism sector 2020/21 shows that TTB emphasised on promoting attractions to the US, the UK, France, German, Italy, China, Russia, Israel, Malaysia and Indonesia markets.
Furthermore, TTB eyes were set on the Gulf markets including Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE), however the strategies were ineffective in identifying the potential markets.
“TTB did not adequately use updated strategies for promotion and marketing of tourism products such as use of digital contents for effective promotion, using 3D pictures and popular social media as well as application of cartoons and TikTok in promotion and marketing,” reads the report in part.
“Instead, interviewed TTB officials said promotion of available attractions at the embassies still relies on promotion materials like printed brochures, papers etc instead of digital contents which are more advanced,” reads another part. The report also says the corporate strategies are emphasised only on development of social media without considering development of digital marketing studio, which is the most modern technique that facilitates market research and intelligence in social media.
“It was noted that the activity of developing the digital marketing studio emerged later out of TTB’s Corporate Strategic Plan without thorough analysis on the means of implementation and access of funds,” according to the report.
According to the report, despite being a member the Southern African Development Corporation (Sadc), Tanzania stood a little chance to benefit from the integration in areas of conferences, exhibition and beach tourism due to low investment in the Meetings, Incentives, Conferencing, Exhibitions (MICE) and beach tourism.
The report says TTB was supposed to have adequate capacity in terms of tools and technology, funding and qualified human resources in order to efficiently carry out its activities, noting that the audit reveals inadequate capacity in those areas. “The audit team noted that TTB did not have a destination expert key in the promotion and marketing of products at popular tourism platforms like TRIPADVISOR,” says the report, quoting officials saying the experts were expensive.
“Instead, TTB has been using the Embassies and Goodwill Ambassadors alternatively in the promotion and marketing,” it reads.
Absence of the destination experts, denied TTB the opportunity to promote and market tourism attractions at popular platforms with qualified destination experts,” adds the report, saying the move denied the country tourists boom.
Furthermore, TTB has been receiving less budget than planned in order to cater the planned promotion activities annually since 2016/17 to 2020/21, with the report attributing the move to collection of Tourism Development Levy (TDL) by the Tanzania Revenue Authority (TRA) and adequate deposition to the consolidated funds.
Regarding human resources, the report shows that despite having the 44 percent of human resources gap, recently the government has shifted seven staff from the directorate of marketing without making adequate replacement.
“Recently, TTB has no technical staff for running the digital market command center. Required staff include, graphic designer, photo and videographer, social media engager, search engine optimizer, editor, copywriter as well as monitoring and evaluation officer,” reads part of the audit report.
The audit report says TTB did not have personnel with adequate skills for graphic designing, website and application development, social media and email marketing, search engine marketing, search engine optimization and online advertisement.
The CAG recommended the TTB management to enhance its mechanisms for promoting and marketing tourist products including use of advanced promotion and marketing technology and developing Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with key stakeholders.
“Enhance its strategies to facilitate achievement of targets in order to increase the number of tourists in the country, identify potential markets and earnings from the national, regional and international levels,” reads the report.