According to the Tourism Master Plan (April, 2002), Tanzania has not yet reached its full potential and is behind several neighboring countries especially in East Africa. For example, Kenya is able to sell the complete range of holiday combinations and gets a larger share of the market. Despite the industry’s “honey pots” in the Northern Wildlife Area, new areas and new tourism products must be developed if the industry is to expand. Tanzania has a wealth of natural, cultural and man-made attractions in all parts of the country which are untapped from the standpoint of tourism development.
In fact, tourism is a highly diversified industry that requires many different components to be in place before there is a complete product to offer in the marketplace. A deficiency in any one component will undermine the capacity of the destination to meet the expectations of tourists. With this in mind, competitive strengthens and weaknesses of Tanzania’s tourism product must be reviewed as a starting point of the market. Tanzania needs to develop an integrated tourism product that is capable of attracting a low volume, high yield segment of the international tourism market to spend their entire holiday in Tanzania. It needs to develop a range of special interest products to a high standard as well as a cultural/ historical tourism product. Tourism product development will not just simply happen. It has to be stimulated directly and the activities of the various tourism enterprises coordinated. This means having a skilled labour force capable of meeting international service standards as well as having knowledge and understanding of the market place.
According to a recent survey, one major complaint of visitors to Tanzania is the poor service methods, poor quality guides in comparison with competitor destinations and low quality tour operators as well as lack of quality accommodations. Although the staff in accommodations, restaurants, national parks and other tourist services were friendly and helpful, a significant number of respondents felt that there was a general lack of training, resulting in a less than professional approach or attitude. The service element as part of the overall product provided was not up to a high enough standard of quality to justify the prices being charged. Many lacked the essential skills needed to do their job to the standard that is required if Tanzania is to compete successfully in the market for international tourism. Managers agree that there is a serious training problem both at the entry level and for existing staff within the industry. All categories of staff require training. For example, the standard of tour guiding received considerable criticism from all tour operators who felt the quality to be worse than in competing destinations. All aspects of tour guiding received criticism – their knowledge, ability to communicate and their attitude.
As mentioned in the Tourism Master Plan [April, 2002], Tanzania currently has insufficient trained personnel in its tourism sector and this is acute at the supervisory and management level. Tourism is a service industry and delivering a quality service is a prerequisite to ensuring that the customer obtains value for money. Thus, there is a need to improve overall product experience rather than a decrease in price. This approach requires a major investment in training of existing and new entrants. This includes training a core of individuals who in turn will train others. It also requires putting in place the necessary structures and educational facilities to meet all the tourism training needs of the industry from within Tanzania.
Hence an extensive program is required to train and educate management and staff currently employed in the industry as well as new entrants at all levels. One key to success is to improve the quality of customer services in hospitality and tourism through the development of a professional education in the context of a university setting that is conducive to serious academic and professional study.