Tanzania developing medical tourism


DAR ES SALAAM, Tanzania (eTN) – From controversial wildlife hunting, land ownership conflicts, and the Maasai rights over pasture land, Loliondo division in northern Tanzania is likely to become the first medical tourist destination after a retired Lutheran pastor opened up a herbal clinic in the area.

Once isolated from other parts of Tanzania, Loliondo Game Controlled Area had been a center of controversy over hunting rights given to United Arab Emirates (UAE) brigadier almost twenty years ago.

Bordering the famous wildlife parks of Ngorongoro and Serengeti, Loliondo had turned into medical tourist site, diverting the media and human rights activists from campaigns against hunting rights, land conflicts, and rights of the local Maasai pastoralists.

While the Loliondo area is making headlines about the miracle healer, Pastor Ambilikile Masapila, residents in Loliondo and Wasso townships are happy to receive visitors from all corners of East Africa.

Tanzania’s ministry of Natural Resources and Tourism is contemplating on the situation about whether to open the once isolated wilderness to the rest of Africa, where the former Lutheran Pastor who claims to have special herbal medicine to cure chronic diseases practices in the Loliondo area.

Thousands of people from Tanzania and beyond its porous borders continue to make a pilgrimage by foot, cycles, cars, buses, lorries, and a helicopter to visit the Pastor, while tourists visiting northern Tanzania’s wildlife parks of Ngorongoro and Serengeti have diverted their itineraries to visit Loliondo.

For the past three weeks, Loliondo has turned out to be a Mecca for seekers of a cure, prompting the Tanzania government to consult ground tour operators, seeking views on how to set visitor facilities – accommodations, eating out settings, and information units.

Officials from the Tanzania Ministry of Tourism, however, is thinking of using global advertising of the healing processes taking place in Loliondo as a means to attract more visitors from Africa and the rest of the world. Reports say many visitors from India and the Middle East have flown there to see the Pastor.

The daily average expenditure for each person attending the healing is US$200 per visitor, giving new hopes for domestic and foreign tourists, thereby boosting the national, personal, and household incomes.

The Minister for Tourism Ezekiel Maige said the Tanzania government is making a close follow-up over the healing with a view to revamping its environment – with the cooperation of the pastor – so that the phenomenon has more tourism characteristics.

Loliondo is located some 70 kilometers from the Serengeti National Park and 40 kilometers from Ngorongoro Crater. Tourism officials are looking at the best options to use that healing opportunity to advertise the place and push up the tourism development there.

Loliondo has, for the past twenty years, been a desperate area with human misery and conflicts over hunting and land ownership rights, involving international tourist companies and a United Arab Emirates (UAE) hunting company. Now, this place is growing to attract thousands of people each day.

If that opportunity is well-exploited, reports say, Tanzania will not only benefit from the cure, but also generate income from tourism.