Dar es Salaam — The Tanzania Tourist Board (TTB) is pushing for establishment of accommodation facilities outside the national parks to enable the country retain its record of offering tourists the true wilderness experience that they crave for.
“Tourists prefer coming to Tanzania because that is the place where they experience the true wilderness-the pride of lions, for instance,” TTB Managing Director Aloyce Nzuki told the ‘Daily News’ in Dar es Salaam over the weekend.
He noted that concerted conservation efforts have enabled Tanzania to keep the neutrality of her national parks. He cited the scarcity of lions in other countries where the wild animals are rarely spotted as a good example of how tourists want to see.
“If it happens that one lion is found in those countries, information is fast shared and suddenly the animal is surrounded by hundreds of tourist vehicles. This shows that tourists don’t come here to watch cars, they come for wild animals”, he said.
Dr Nzuki spoke against what he described as “developing cities within the national parks,” proposing construction of tourist accommodation hubs at areas close to the parks, instead. He said building hotels within the parks had adverse environmental repercussions due to increased human population.
“One hotel room requires averagely two staff members you can imagine the number of people will have to live in the national park if only 2,000 hotel rooms were constructed,” said Dr Nzuki, noting that Karatu, for instance, could survey and designate a specific land for development of tourist accommodation facilities to tap the business opportunities from visitors to Ngorongoro crater.
The major advantage of dedicating a particular area for accommodation is the easy provision of the basic amenities-water, electricity, security as well as banking and communication services.
The influx of tourists to the Northern tourist circuit-Ngorongoro, Manyara, Kilimanjaro and Serengeti national parks in particular-is already exerting pressure to the limited accommodation facilities available.
But, conservationists remain adamant on construction of hotels within the parks. Dr Nzuki said although Tanzania is endowed with many tourist attractions, the Northern circuit will dominate the market for a foreseeable future because of its relatively developed infrastructure, “The state of infrastructure in the Southern circuit is a problem.”
However, though Tanzania is widely acknowledged as one of the world’s top tourist destinations because of her world class tourist attractions, experts say that under the reigning package tourism arrangement, the local economy was earning just peanut of the total earnings that the business generates, globally.
Industry watchers are advocating for massive entry of Tanzanians as tour operators to enable the country capture a significant portion of the total revenues that the sector generates. The establishment of a strong local airline capable of flying tourists to and from their home countries will also boost earnings.