• Kyodo

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Tanzania is targeting Japan as an alternative to its traditional European and U.S. tourists, according to government officials.

A promotional and marketing mission comprising 55 business executives and government officials is in Japan to lobby the travel and leisure industry to promote Tanzania more as a tourist destination, officials from the Ministry of Natural Resources and Tourism said in a statement.

The team is taking part in a joint trade exhibition in Osaka organized by the Japanese World Trade Center, together with the Tanzania Tourist Board and Tanzania’s Board of External Trade.

The exhibition will also promote the country’s produce and tourism services in Southeast Asian markets, the officials said.

“This is a rare chance to promote and market Tanzania’s tourism and investment opportunities in Japan, which is regarded as a new market for African products,” Amant Macha, a senior marketing official at TTB, told the local weekly East African newspaper shortly before leaving for Japan.

The delegation is drawn from bodies such as the ministry, TTB and the Ngorongoro Conservation Area Authority as well as various tour and hotel companies, the statement said.

Japanese tourists, who have the potential to rival European and U.S. tourists, are a new business avenue for East Africa.

The volume of Japanese tourists visiting Tanzania increased from 9,600 in 1998 to some 12,500 last year, and projections show the figure reaching about 15,000 by year’s end, according to government records.

Relatively few Japanese tourists visit East Africa — even though it is rich with tourist attractions, such as its varied wildlife — reportedly mainly because of poor marketing campaigns and publicity.

Distance is also cited as a major hindrance, as is the problem of no direct flights between East Africa and Tokyo.

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