Tanzania: $156m Plan to Boost Tourism in Ruaha, Selous

Arusha — The government yesterday announced a $156 million (Sh340 billion) major plan to boost tourism in the southern circuit.

The plan, which will be financed by the World Bank (WB), will involve upgrading of roads leading to the iconic tourist sites in the zone, including the Ruaha National Park and Rungwa and Selous game reserves.

Under it, the local airlines would be encouraged to increase their fights to the Mbeya and Iringa airports currently being expanded.

The huge swathe of land in the southern part of the country, where the largely virgin national park, game reserves and other natural attractions are found, have airstrips.

However, the minister did not say if dozens of airstrips and aerodromes in the zone will be included in the envisaged transport infrastructure development to be funded from the WB loan.

"We still have fewer visitors compared with the great attractions we have compared to many other countries," said the minister for Natural Resources and Tourism, Prof Jumanne Maghembe, when announcing measures to boost the sector.

He revealed this here when inaugurating a Sh3.2 billion exhibition hall constructed by the Arusha International Conference Centre (AICC) to compliment its conference activities.

The minister said Tanzania received 1,250,000 tourists last year, noting that the figure sharply contrasted with the world famous tourist attractions the country have which range from wildlife parks, beaches and archaeological sites.

He challenged the AICC, a state run body under the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and East African Cooperation, to tap the potential of conference tourism which, according to him, generated $670 million (Sh1.4 trillion) to the economy last year.

Prof Maghembe promised that the government would give every necessary support to the Centre to secure an affordable land in Dodoma to enable it construct a convention centre in the envisaged capital.

The minister revealed this when responding to an appeal by the chairman of the AICC board of directors, Dr Ladislaus Komba, to secure an affordable plot for its investment in Dodoma because the one shown to them would cost a whooping Sh2.4 billion.

"We are afraid we will reach a situation where land being sought for construction of buildings is more expensive than the investment structures," he said, noting that they have secured a 32-acre land.

AICC also plans to put up another convention centre in Iringa Region, which is slowly becoming a hub of tourism activities in the southern circuit. However, details of the proposed facility were not revealed.

Source: allAfrica