Moshi — TEN out of the country's 15 National Parks are located in the Southern and Western parts of the country but almost all Tanzanian bound tourists end up visiting the Northern Circuit instead.
The Director General of the Tanzania National Parks (TANAPA) Mr Allan Kijazi said here over the weekend that the Northern Circuit which essentially sells only the Serengeti National Park, Mount Kilimanjaro, Lake Manyara, Arusha and Tarangire Game Parks, attracts nearly 90 per cent of the 960,000 foreign visitors touring the country annually.
"Soon the Saa-Nane Island in Lake Victoria will make the country's sixteenth National Park, while Ruaha which is found in the Southern Circuit , the biggest National Park, yet as far as tourists are concerned, Tanzania is only the land of Serengeti and Kilimanjaro," said Mr Kijazi appealing to the media to promote the underrated Western and Southern tourism circuits.
Other potential areas with low profile include Rubondo, Lake Tanganyika peninsulas such as Gombe and Mahale and the virgin Edens found within Katavi National Park.
"The government is working on a plan to open up the Southern Corridor through ambitious road construction projects but more efforts are needed to make the world aware of the south and encourage tourists to visit the Western and Southern parts of the country," he said.
Mr Kijazi was speaking during a special domestic tourism training for Northern Zone journalists who are working in Arusha, Kilimanjaro, Manyara and Tanga regions and who converged in Moshi for a two-day seminar.
It is reported that nearly 90 per cent of tourists visiting the country prefer to gaze at wild animals and 80 per cent of all tourists end up in the Northern Regions of Arusha and Kilimanjaro. The tourism which ranks second after the mining sector generates over 100 billion/- per year.
Mr Kijazi said that the country stands to gain much more if the other tourist attractions in the West and South would be opened up and highly promoted globally.
He also pointed out that domestic tourism was almost non-existent with very few locals visiting the country's attractions and admitted that the high costs of travel and hotel accommodation hampered the growth of this segment.
He promised to work on the shortfall. "Park entrances are still very low at just 1500/- for Tanzanians, but the challenge of transport and accommodation is what we are currently working on in collaboration with the private sector," he said.