Tanzania’s ambassador to China, Mbelwa Kairuki, recently announced plans to attract more Chinese travelers to Tanzania.
Kairuki met with the Tanzania Association of Tour Operators (TATO) in Arusha to brief tourism players and investors on steps to be taken including the development of new online booking software and a website.
It is estimated that 157 million Chinese nationals will visit other countries or regions during 2020. By moving towards digitalization, Tanzania hopes to increase its share of this booming outbound market.
Doing so would bring great financial benefits to the country. According to a report by the State Administration of Foreign Exchange, Chinese travelers spent $127.5 billion abroad during the first 6 months of 2019 alone.
How Tanzania Is Using Technology to Attract Chinese Visitors
China is a very technologically developed country. As Chinese tourists are accustomed to organizing trips online, they prefer visiting countries where they can benefit from the same technology they use at home.
Digitalization is, therefore, a logical step to take in the quest to attract more Chinese holidaymakers.
China has developed its own digital platforms such as WeChat, Weibo, and QQ in place of WhatsApp, Facebook, and Twitter which are all banned by the Chinese government.
Of China’s platforms, WeChat, which is also linked to translation and financial services, is the most widely used and has therefore been incorporated into digitalization plans as explained below.
A new booking platform for Chinese tourists
Central to Tanzania’s digitization project is the development of a new booking platform for Chinese tourists. The platform will include:
- Reservation and booking app
- Chinese social media apps
- Marketing and advertising space
Website to promote Tanzania as a destination for Chinese Tourists
In addition to the booking platform, the embassy is developing a website to promote the country as a holiday destination for Chinese tourists.
The website, to be hosted in China using 5G technology, will include the name and contact details of Tanzanian tourism firms as well as a WeChat QR code.
Given the importance of WeChat in China, tourist firms are being encouraged to open an account to simplify communication with Chinese clients.
The plans are for the website to be promoted on Chinese social media platforms. Firms catering to Chinese travelers are being encouraged to make use of the new website to promote their services.
Events and roadshows for Chinese tourism
Players and investors are recommended to attend the following annual events to learn more about attracting Chinese tourists:
- The Outbound Travel and Tourism Market, 1st to 3rd April, Beijing
- Shanghai World Travel Fair, April 23 to 26 and following roadshow
Popular Activities in Tanzania among Chinese Tourists
Chinese tourists in Tanzania enjoy the beauty of the country and its unique tourist attractions. Wildlife areas, game reserves, lakes, and mountains can be explored whilst locally made products can be purchased in the shopping areas.
Chinese visitors will discover 3 of the 7 natural wonders of Africa in Tanzania:
- First itemMount Kilimanjaro
- Serengeti National Park
- Ngorongoro Crater.
Shopping for locally made products is another interesting option. Wood carvings are typical in Arusha and Moshi whilst pottery is created in the area surrounding Matema. Tourists in Iringa can purchase baskets from the resident basket weavers.
Online Visa for Chinese Tourists Traveling To Tanzania
Chinese citizens who wish to enter Tanzania for tourism purposes must obtain a visa. In line with the government’s move towards digitalization and easing tourism bureaucracy, Tanzania has now launched an electronic visa.
This new Tanzania Tourist eVisa is now available to Chinese nationals who can apply online. It is the quickest and most efficient way to gain access to the country. Although the visa can be applied for on arrival, this is not advised as there are often long queues at the border.
Furthermore, with an increase in Chinese visitor numbers expected in Tanzania as a result of the new technology being developed, requesting a visa online is highly recommended.
The online form takes just a few minutes to fill out and, once approved, the applicant receives the eVisa by email.
Chinese nationals must meet the visa requirements laid out by the authorities which differ depending on the type of visa required. Most visitors opt for a single-entry tourist visa which allows for a 3-month consecutive stay in the country.
The Importance of Chinese Tourism to Tanzania
The China Outbound Tourism Research Institute (COTRI) reported that, in 2018, somewhere in the region of 4.31 million Chinese nationals visited Africa. Most leisure tourists in Africa travel from Shanghai.
Currently, only a small proportion of these Chinese tourists visit Tanzania: in 2019, approximately 10,000 Chinese tourists went to the east African country. Digitalization is considered to be the key to improving this figure in the coming years.
Overall, tourism is an important sector to the economy of Tanzania, contributing an average of $2.5 billion annually and creating over 1.5 million jobs.