WIDE OPEN SPACES

Tanzania 2018 | TOURISM | INTERVIEW

TBY talks to Devota Mdachi, Managing Director of the Tanzania Tourist Board (TTB), on attracting more visitors to a wider range of destinations.

Devota Mdachi
BIOGRAPHY
Devota Mdachi started working with TTB in 1994 and was first employed as Tourist Information Officer, at the TTB Branch Office in Arusha. In 1998, she was transferred to Dar es Salaam, and was attached to the Tourist Information Centre. Since then she has worked in various positions at TTB as Senior Tourist Information Officer, Principal Tourist Information Officer, Head of the Dar es Salaam Tourist Information Centre, Principal Marketing Officer, Director of Marketing, and finally Managing Director in 2016. She is the first Tanzanian woman to hold the positions of Director of Marketing and Managing Director of the TTB. She holds a BA in international relations and advanced French language from the University of Dar es Salaam (1991); an MA in tourism from the Open University of Tanzania (2008), and post-graduate certificate in tourism from the International School of Tourism, Rome (2000).

How does the TTB balance marketing Tanzania's most well-known attractions with encouraging people to visit lesser known parts of the country?

Previously, we were very much focusing on the well-known attractions, especially those located in the northern part of the country. The main reason was that those areas are supported by tourism infrastructure: good roads, an international airport, and plenty of accommodation options. But recently we have found that Tanzania's northern tourism circuit has become saturated with tourists. In order to avoid mass tourism spoiling those areas, we decided there was a need to diversify Tanzania's tourism offering. Right now, we are placing considerable emphasis on promoting the southern tourism circuit. We recently signed up for a grant from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) precisely for the development of areas such as Rujewa, Kitulo, Udzungwa Mountains National Park, Selous Game Reserve, Mikumi National Park, and Ruaha National Park.

Aside from geographical diversification, how else is the TTB looking to widen Tanzania's tourism offering?

When we talk about diversification, we are not just talking about opening up other parts of the country, but also about promoting other products, such as cultural tourism. We want people who come to Tanzania to be able to stay with local people and learn about Tanzanian culture. Moreover, the government is also focusing on encouraging other types of tourism activities, such as beach tourism. We have one of the longest, cleanest, and most beautiful coastlines in Africa, with around 800km of white sand beach. This coastline has not been developed, and, therefore, presents a ripe opportunity for investments in beach tourism. We are also working to boost our MICE offerings, encouraging international business gatherings to take place in Tanzania as much as possible. We have state-of-the-art conference centers: the Julius Nyerere International Convention Center (JNICC), in Dar es Salaam, the Arusha International Conference Centre (AICC), in Arusha, and other establishments in major cities to encourage event planners to choose Tanzania as their next conference destination. Plans are being made to establish a national visitors and convention bureau in Tanzania. This will ensure that more international conferences take place in Tanzania. Efforts are also being made to promote sports tourism, to have more international football matches, marathons, and other sports events take place in Tanzania. Historical tourism is also another area we are looking into, especially now after the recent discovery of the skeleton of a 70 million-years-old sauropod in Tanzania.

How is the TTB working to ensure that conservation remains a top priority?

Statistically, the majority of our tourists come to Tanzania for the wildlife. It is clearly a major product for the country, and it looks like this trend will continue. In 2017, Tanzania was named the best safari destination in the world by Safaribookings.com. Because of this, it is even more crucial for us to conserve our wildlife in order to enable our industry to continue growing sustainably. To do this, the TTB works with both the public and private sector. Through our cultural tourism program and also through our support program to Wildlife Management Areas, we try to educate and involve local communities in the conservation management of their areas.