TANAPA’s Management is still looking into this opening as it strives to reach out both local and foreign tourists. The newly appointed Minister for Tourism and Natural Resources, Dr Hamis Kigwangala (MP) has spotted it and is confident of the power that social media hold.

Duniahabari.com is a news net that covers both local and international news. Being an online news net it strives to cover fresh, instant and variety of news ranging from conservation, tourism, travel and leisure, sports and games as well as politics. Part of the proposal reads, “Duniahabari.com proposes to TANAPA to contract its services and expertise to collect domestic tourism information for Tanzania National Parks (TANAPA), process it and disseminate the same for the purpose of enlightening Tanzanians especially youth on the importance of visiting TANAPA’s National Parks as well as other tourist attractions.

” In the proposal, Duniahabari (www.duniahabari.com) committed to run a three month social media campaign titled “Nchi Yetu Kwanza, Tutembelee Hifadhi Zetu.” In addition, it proposes to collaborate with travel and leisure global bloggers to create awareness, sensitization and mobilisation within and outside the country.

It envisions that through this campaign the youth especially students from primary, secondary schools, colleges and universities will visit the national parks hence cultivating a culture of travel and leisure amongst them. “We shall engage social media influencers such as young celebrities and internet stars to convince Tanzanian youth to travel more domestically”, part of the proposal reads. But why Social Media? Undoubtedly social media leads other media right now.

It has captured the heart and attention of both young and adults. Therefore, the use of internet and other information communication technologies leads to a new era of tourism economy. Social media, as one of most powerful online networking tools, has been integrated into a part of social and economic life in the real world.

Wikipedia defines social media as the means of interactions among people in which they create, share, exchange and comment contents among themselves in virtual communities and network.

It includes social networking sites, blogs, microblogs, consumer review sites, content community sites, internet forums and location based social media. Social media has emerged as the new way in which people connect socially, by integrating information and communication technology (such as mobile and web-based technologies), social interaction, and the construction of words, pictures, videos and audio.

It is actually more than a new way to communicate, but refers to an entire online environment built on people’s contributions and interactions. Reliable data discloses that social media has seen exponential growth during the past several years.

By December 2015, around 65 percent of people use social media, almost everybody (98 percent) aged 18-24 year olds already use social media. The leading social media currently being Facebook has now over 1.2 billion members.

And in recent years, the role of social media in tourism has been increasingly noted and researched as an emerging channel of communication. Social media plays an increasingly important role in many aspects of tourism, especially in information search and decision making behaviours and tourism promotion focusing on best practices for interacting with consumers via social media channels.

Leveraging off social media to market tourism products has proven to be an excellent strategy. Many countries regard social media as an important tool to promote their tourism industries.

Tourism Kenya, for instance, is encouraging the Kenyan tourism industry to positively embrace social media in promoting their business. Kenyan operators are being offered the chance to promote their tourism business or region using Tourism Kenya’s record breaking fan base by listing themselves in a ‘things to do’ section on its Facebook page.

Thus Duniahabari.com proposes that TANAPA’s Tourism Marketing strategy to comprise three key elements namely brand marketing to inspire domestic tourists who want to visit TANAPA and other tourist attraction sites- this now includes content marketing to increase consumer knowledge and understanding about the National Parks as an extraordinary holiday destination – for example, the creation and sharing of media and publishing content including PR, news, video, e-leaflets, info-graphics, photos.

The technique aims to educate consumers about a product they may have never considered before. Secondly, co-operative marketing by working with highly-recognised retail travel brands that have the ability to retail a wide range of TANAPA’s tourism products and generate bookings- this includes local Airways, BRT (uDART), Daladala’s, Upcountry Buses, Trains, Malls such as Mlimani City. Lastly, major calendar events and accompanying events marketing campaign to communicate that there is always something on in TANAPA’s extraordinary parks.

The primary objective of Tourism TANAPA’s Social Media campaign is to create awareness and generate interest amongst youth to cultivate a culture of liking their own resources and recreational facilities.

Briefly put, TANAPA social media campaign shall in the end be able to inspire youth to want to have a holiday in the National Parks; Move youth from awareness to consideration to improve their chances of researching and planning an adventure by visiting TANAPA Parks and Game Reserves; Complement TANAPA’s marketing programs in all markets; Increase the dispersal of visitors into the Parks and, generate increase in visitor’s spending and yield ensuring tourism and related businesses remain viable and jobs retained. Social media continues to grow and increasingly influences on many social and economic aspects.

Our tourism industry is primed to take advantage of social media outlets as it has long relied largely on destination reputation, consumer opinion, spread of information and positive word-of-mouth advertising. Kenya’s aggressive and offensive marketing has taken her industry to heights of success. Have a great ‘Sato’ Comrades Jacks Meena, Freelance Media and Communications Consultant.

E-mail: jmmeena@hotmail.com cel. +255 655 280 355