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Discussion in 'Biashara, Uchumi na Ujasiriamali' started by ByaseL, Dec 2, 2009.

  1. B

    ByaseL JF-Expert Member

    Dec 2, 2009
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    Tanzania Tourist Board (TTB) has been going places recently. In 2008 the tourism body launched a major marketing campaign worldwide particularly in the United States of America (USA). In the third quarter of 2008 the government through TTB launched an aggressive promotion of Tanzania on CNN and world channel of ABC Television. The message was spot on, short and snappy: "Tanzania-Land of Kilimanjaro, Zanzibar and the Serengeti". This is the marketing drive that President Kikwete passionately and jokingly alluded to when addressing Parliament in August 2008 in Dodoma.

    If Tanzania had airlines of world class stature and experience there would have been a rejoinder to the foregoing tourism advert as follows: "And Air Tanzania and Precision Air will take you there". But under the circumstances this can only be a wishful thinking. This is one of the reasons Tanzania still has a long way to go before her tourism potential can be fully optimized.

    TTB's marketing crusade in this regard is three pronged. Firstly, to repackage Tanzania as a top notch tourism product that can sell competitively in the marketplace. Secondly, part of the message is to correct an entrenched false impression out there purporting Kilimanjaro to be in Kenya! Our neighbor has for donkey's years outwitted Tanzania by selling Kilimanjaro as part and parcel of the Kenyan tourism product. Previously tourists would arrive in Kenya only to realize that they had to cross the border to Tanzania to take a closer view and climb Mount Kilimanjaro. Meanwhile Kenyan Tourist Agencies would be laughing all the way to the bank while Tanzania was left with just crumbs.

    Lastly, TTB's message is aimed at attracting high quality tourism (USA has high disposable income) as opposed to mass tourism which has worked elsewhere but with dire consequences.

    There are also some positive reports to the effect that TTB put up a good show at the recent London Travel Market Fair held in the UK. It became apparent at this Fair that Tanzania is, slowly but surely, becoming a serious contender in the world tourism industry. We commend TTB for all these good initiatives being taken to ensure that tourism plays an effective role in the socio-economic development of this country. Tourism is one area where indisputably Tanzania has a competitive advantage. Our country is not about to become a "Silicon Valley". Certainly not in the near future. We can only excel where we have an economic competitive advantage like agriculture and tourism. It is in this context that I think TTB is on the right track. However, there is a danger that tourism could remain a Cinderella in this country until certain fundamental issues are seriously addressed.

    In principle it is acknowledged that Tourism and Air Transport are, by and large, intertwined. To be able to develop sustainable tourism a country needs an affective air transport system. These two sectors compliment each other. There are very few countries in the world that can become serious tourist destinations without a "home based" airline. You need a strong home based airline to act as a catalyst to bring about tourism revolution.

    Examples abound. Thailand is a tourism magnet thanks to Thai International and Phukket Air. We all see how Malaysia Airlines is bombarding the international airwaves, relentlessly promoting Malaysia's beaches as being the best on the planet. Dubai has really nothing to offer save for a desert, some beaches and sky crappers but look at how Emirates Airlines has gone all the way to pamper that desert country and Dubai is now the place to go! Nearer home, Kenya Airways is busy blowing the Kenya Tourism Trumpet as the "Pride of Africa". I can go on and on but let me just mention a few.

    The old adage that says it takes two to tango comes into play. Indeed, in all these countries home based airlines have been working hand in glove with tourism bodies to vigorously promote the tourism potential of respective countries to bring about major tourism landmarks. Other foreign airlines can only come in to augment these efforts.

    In spite of all what Tanzania has on her tourism menu, it would be foolhardy to even contemplate that the likes of British Airways, KLM, Ethiopian Airlines, et al, could join in earnest TTB's tourism drive bandwagon to make it a success. As far as the foreign airlines are concerned, Tanzania is just one of the many tourism products waiting on the shelf to be sold. In the marketplace Tanzania is in competition with Bermuda, Hawaii, Australia, Brazil, Spain, South Africa and you guessed right, Kenya! Just to mention but a few.

    To effectively promote a tourism destination an airline needs to allocate sizeable resources. As Ms. Sada Juma, Tanzania Area Manager for British Airways (BA) will attest, what she gets from BA for promoting tourism in Tanzania is just peanuts. It is therefore quite obvious that in order for the tourism sector to be able to take off effectively, our country needs to come up with an equally effective air transport policy that will go hand in hand with the tourism policy.

    As a matter of priority our transport policy and infrastructure need to be reviewed and developed respectively, to be able to cope with the impeding tourism implosion in the country once the TTB marketing campaign eventually comes into effect. For instance, the current airport infrastructure at Julius Kambarage Nyerere International Airport (JKNIA), Kilimanjaro International Airport (KIA) and Zanzibar Airport need be upgraded as matter of urgency. Experience has shown that at the moment JKNIA cannot efficiently handle three big passenger aircraft at the same time. The immigration area becomes too congested, toilet facilities are in short supply, air conditioning becomes ineffective and the baggage handling system gets completely overwhelmed.

    JKNIA just like KIA and Zanzibar Airport are, by design, not a user friendly airports for transit passengers. There are literally no first/business class lounges to offer comfort for those who can afford it and the duty free shopping areas are too small for future expansion. We have all seen the chaotic situation at Zanzibar Airport when more than two charter flights arrive or leave at the same time. All these shortcomings do not augur well with TTB's tourism strategy. One wonders what is likely to happen if tourism increases two fold just a few years down the road. It would be interesting to look at the Tanzania Civil Aviation Authority's (TCAA) medium and long term plan and see how they plan to address all these and other related issues.

    Meanwhile when all these endeavors are going on, Tanzania needs to seriously address the development of the airline sector which currently is a major drawback on the country's tourism potential. As I have shown above the role of a home based airline in promoting the tourism industry cannot be overemphasized. It does not really matter if such an airline is a private airline like Precision Air or a public one just like Air Tanzania. As Chairman Mao Tse Tung used to say; it does not matter whether a cat is white or black as long as it can catch a mice.

    Unfortunately neither Precision Air nor Air Tanzania, under the current circumstances, are able to catch the "mice". Our two home based airlines are simply not up to the task of performing a complimentary role to assist TTB achieve its goal of bringing about the tourism revolution in this country.

    Precision Air under Kenya Airways' grip, with due respect, is not in a good position to champion Tanzania's tourism mission. Under Kenya Airways short and medium term business model, Precision Air will essentially remain a domestic and regional airline. It can only serve at the beck and call of its strategic investor and this being the case we are not likely to see a Precision Air's tail anytime soon in places like London, Frankfurt, Hong Kong let alone New York. Precision Air is strategically a Kenya Airways' feeder airline and all its distribution network will always begin and end in Nairobi. To be candid, Precision Air should have been partnered with a strategic investor with Tanzania's tourism interests at heart but not Kenya Airways. But I am digressing because this is now water under the bridge.

    In retrospect Tanzania lost a chance to turn Air Tanzania into a tourism focused airline when it divested the "Wings of Kilimanjaro' in 2003 by inviting South African Airways (SAA) as a "strategic investor" in the national airline. In buying into Air Tanzania Company Limited (ATCL), SAA was motivated by two objectives which had nothing to do with tourism development in Tanzania. Firstly, SAA was at that time working on what was known as "Networking Africa Strategy". This was premised on creating two mini hubs, one in Lagos, Nigeria and another one in East Africa to hook up with a big hub in Johannesburg, South Africa. Once the Nigerian connection fell through, ATCL could no longer fit into SAA's business model. Secondly, SAA was increasingly becoming paranoid with Kenya Airways expansionist desires in Africa. By coming into Tanzania, SAA was actually trying to forestall Kenya Airways market consolidation in East Africa. Kenya Airways outmaneuvered SAA by snapping up Precision Air and this was the last nail in the coffin of SAA's future interest in ATCL. The rest as they say is history.

    Tanzania's desire to create a formidable and tourism driven airline turned into a pipedream the very moment Air Tanzania wet to bed with SAA. The first and foremost objective of SAA is to promote South Africa's tourism worldwide and Tanzania could only play second fiddle. No wonder the South African Government had to quickly repossess SAA from Swiss Air when it became crystal clear that the latter would not survive the September 11, 2001 terrorist attack backlash on air transportation.

    We are all witnesses of a major media blitz on tourism during the 2010 world cup finals being mounted by SAA in collaboration with the South African Tourism Board. This is the way to go.

    The separation of SAA and ATCL in 2006 was seen by many observers as a god given chance for the Tanzania Government to press the "re-boot button" and get a fresh start for the national airline. It was envisaged that ATCL would be structured and painstakingly be nurtured to gradually take its rightful role in the promotion of tourism in the country. Regrettably the public at large is now dismayed and shocked at how the government has been neglecting ATCL. It does not serve our medium to long term development objectives to, slowly but surely, let ATCL go six feet under just because it is a loss making airline. That is being short sighted.

    We are not even impressed, let alone optimistic, by the government's overzealousness on the so called ‘strategic investor" from faraway China. There is nothing strategic in giving away an ailing airline just because the government wants to cut its losses and run. This investor will easily walk into ATCL, do some cosmetic restructuring and when the airline starts generating profits sell it to yet another "strategic investor". This circus will likely go on and on. We have seen this day light robbery happen in other sectors of the economy and air transport is no exception. My unsolicited advice to the powers that be is that the government should sober up and get its priorities right and stop paying lip service to the air transport sector.

    Let the country invest adequately in air transport infrastructure so that this sector can keep pace with the developments in tourism sector. Revamp ATCL by firstly stabilizing and consolidating it on the domestic and regional scene. It is only when the national airline is up and running profitably, that the government can then look for a bona fide strategic investor who will help us propel ATCL onto the international scene. When we reach this stage our national airline will now become an important and dependable stakeholder that would be able to participate fully in the development of tourism in this country. Short of this, Tanzania's tourism development strategy will remain elusive.

    By Byase Luteke
  2. N

    Nyauba JF-Expert Member

    Dec 2, 2009
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    Good note.

    I strongly agree with you on the opinions. But why always the govt failed to set a clear strategy in managing our resorces, public companies etc????

    Do we really have reliable human capital? Should politics continue leadind our priorities???
  3. B

    ByaseL JF-Expert Member

    Dec 2, 2009
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    Frankly speaking I think it is because we lack seriouness in whatever we do. Talking specifically about the aviation industry I think the Government is simply not serious enough. They talk a lot but they do not walk the talk. Indeed we may not have the human capital, for example, to run the airline profesionally and profitably but if we are quite serious we may hire competent resources. Most of the airlines in the Middle East like Emitrates, Qatar, Etihad and Gulf Air are run by expertriates and that does not make them less nationalistic. They are doing so well such that they even employ foreigners more than nationals! Gradually the nationals can be groomed into competence to take over from foreigners eventually.

    Bila kuwa na mkakati wa kuwa na shirika mahili la ndege utalii hapa kwetu utabakia kuwa Cinderella!
  4. bona

    bona JF-Expert Member

    Dec 4, 2009
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    to be honest with you most african countries can not manage to run companies which need state of the art technical operations, we can merely run companies which need less or not at all technical operations like banks,insurance, tra etc the reason to this is to run a technical organisation you need good trained personnel, maintenance equipments and large maintenance budget.
    most african owned organisation employs people by who know who, rampant corruption not to mention beuractric for such rasons it must go down.
    also most goverment owned organisation set very little budget for maintenance cost, at the end you end up with few running equipments and it become impossible to repair them due to its number not to mention that small maintenance budget is used to buy underquality spares in corruption manner.
    in short most african owned organisation something called maintenance culture i not a terminology in african dictionary.
    this tells why similar organisation die inspite of huge profit or success operations most had during their initial days of operations, few to mention tanesco, trl, tazara, uda, nuwa, nasaco, tpa, the famous kilimanjaro machine tools etc.
    bila maintenance culture, hata serikali ikiipig jeki atcl kwa bil.100 litakufa tu
  5. B

    Bulesi JF-Expert Member

    Dec 4, 2009
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    Byasel , a little correction mkuu, It was Deng and not Mao who said ' It does not matter whether a cat is white or black as long as it catches mice" .This was after the fall of THE GANG OF FOUR!! Congratulations for a well thought out piece!
  6. K

    Kimweri JF-Expert Member

    Dec 5, 2009
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    to add something to this,seriousness comes from leaders who ere appointed from merits,executives who are awarded from performance,none of which happens to be the case with our leaders and executives.

    tukileta expatriates ku-run companies they get frustrated with junior workers and executives who were here already until they become fruitless,look at TTCL,TANESCO etc.maybe because they were brought here from a dirty perscpective,hence even them do not posses positive attitude towards their work.

    if we do manage to have a strong Airline,A better airport will be of due service to this airline..,that is if these two don't go hand in hand already.

  7. K

    Kimweri JF-Expert Member

    Dec 5, 2009
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    Most of our leaders/executives are narrow thinkers..,they would take a $50,000 bribe for a multi million dollar project.
    with chinese flogging our economy expect no results for the next 50 years,since they are very good at giving away cheap money to secure big deals.also expect to see most our politicians praising Chinese investments or government as very helpful than the west.
    you know the drill,its high time for our politicians to become super rich if they aren't already, from those unquestionable bribes they get from the Chinese.
    these cheap and low quality products we see in Kariakoo will never go away as well,since the masters are being taken care of.Poleni watanzania wenzangu.
  8. i

    ishuguy Member

    Dec 10, 2009
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    Govt knows all these things and a lot of strategies have been set to boast Tanzania's tourism but the only problem is that on each and every project they focus on personal interest.
  9. The Boss

    The Boss JF-Expert Member

    Dec 10, 2009
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    Hatuna viongozi,
    hilo ndo tatizo mama