National tourism organizations have a very important role to play in the selling of a country globally. The first ever National Tourism Organization was founded in New Zealand in the year 1901. Although New Zealand is a small country, it has the biggest ideas in developing and maintaining tourist attraction.
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More NTO‘s were founded after the first NTO with far reaching success. This led to the formation of NTO‘s in almost all other countries of the world with the sole objective of making those countries known better as tourist destinations.
These organizations are important because tourism is a very vital sector in most economies of the world. It is actually to some countries the biggest income earner. NTO’s in their function of promoting a countries tourism sector perform many functions. First, they have to create a brand image for their country.
Lately, the term ’brand’ has been internationally accepted in the field of Tourism. It is that enduring image of a country in the travelers mind, acquired both from knowledge and from personal emotions (Lennon, 2000).
Knowledge comes from reading, information from friends or even the internet. Through national brand creation campaigns, National Tourism Boards have a responsibility to create a positive, attractive and informative education to the world about their respective countries.
This is possible through aggressive advertising campaigns through international TV and Radio channels mostly using the latest technology (Beaver, 2002).
Feelings come from human experiences and things that we are exposed to in the environment. NTOs have the responsibility of creating a national image for their countries that will be associated with positive emotions by the prospective tourists to their countries.
NTOs in countries that have been war torn such as Somalia or Syria for example have to embark on a campaign to reconstruct the image of their countries in the global tourist market.
They, therefore, have to create impressions and images that the billions of the world population will associate with those countries. This positive image will serve to replace the unsafe and war torn knowledge and emotions of fear in the minds of tourists (Wilkerson, 2003).
NTOs have also the function of developing and maintaining tourism infrastructure in their countries. These entail tourist attraction sites such as National Parks, animal orphanages, great structures, artistic architectural designs and natural resources. This function is most important because no tourists would visit a destination if they will not experience or see anything special (Cooper et al 2005).
They also undertake to create tourist attraction facilities especially where none or little exist. Such sites could include camping sites, theatres, cinema halls, picnic areas and amusement sites. By bringing up these structures, the NTOs also improve the brand strength of their countries. Those tourists who visit the countries will also speak positively about them.
When tourists visit a country, they expect to be received warmly and with kind-heartedness. It is therefore, the responsibility of National Tourist Boards to train and instruct potential tourist officials or personnel. This is important because when one is dissatisfied with services from a country, they will badmouth it to more people than when they are satisfied, thereby, damaging the country’s image (Wurzburger et al 2009).
NTOs have a very crucial role to keep their country known to the world. This is done through publications such as national journals. With the evolution of the internet this century, it is the role of NTOs to develop and maintain a national web site for their countries and also on social networking sites such as face book and twitter.
Their websites would give such information about a country’s History, Culture, Language, Foods and Tourist destinations. It is, therefore, evident that National Tourism Organizations play an important role in ‘selling’ their countries and contribute greatly to National income (Theobald, 1998).
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Beaver, A. (2002). A Dictionary of Travel and Tourism Terminology. Wallingford: CAB International.
Cooper, C. et al (2005). Tourism: Principles and Practice. Harlow: Pearson Education.
Lennon, J. (2000). Dark Tourism. London: Continuum.
Theobald, W. F. (1998). Global Tourism. Oxford (England): Butterworth–Heinemann.
Wilkerson, C. (2003). Travel and Tourism: An Overlooked Industry in the U.S. and Tenth District. Economic Review, 88: 45–72.
Wurzburger, R. et al (2009). Creative Tourism: A Global Conversation: How to Provide Unique Creative Experiences for Travelers Worldwide. New Mexico, USA: Sunstone Press.