19 November 2012

Tanzania: Bunge Committee Seeks to Restrict Additional Hotels in Parks

LEGISLATORS have stepped in to ensure that national parks are not overcrowded with mushrooming tourist hotels.

Members of the Parliamentary Committee in-charge of Land, Natural Resources and Environment currently visiting conservation areas and national parks in the Northern Zone have stated that they planned to table a motion before the National Assembly to restrict additional construction of hotels and other commercial properties in game parks.

"The uniqueness of Tanzania's National Parks lies in the fact that most parts are still virgin lands, untouched since creation and founders of the nation had done everything possible to reduce or totally prevent human activities and other artificial developments within their reserves," said Mr James Lembeli, the committee's chairman.

Mr Lembeli, who is a Member of Parliament for Kahama, led the entire team of legislators to Ngorongoro Conservation Area Authority where they held public meetings with residents of NCAA as well as workers at the conservation institution.

Ngorongoro residents, who are mostly Maasai, raised concern over what they described as random allocation of plots and land in the conservation areas to potential developers for them to erect massive structures while natives were being barred from practising small-scale subsistence farming in the area.

"Which is bad for conservation; a huge concrete structure of a hotel with rumbling power generators or a small garden in the backyard of mud-walled, grass-thatched huts, belonging to locals, in which they are to grow vegetables," they queried.

The Public Relations Officer with NCAA, Mr Nixon Nyange, said mass tourism was not only destructive to the environment, but also in reality does not yield much cash as people are led to believe.

"Kenya gets more tourists than Tanzania because the former practice mass tourism while the latter would rather limit the number of visitors for high-quality product," said Mr Nyange.

"As a result, Kenya gets more visitors (1.5 million) per year, but earns less revenue from tourism; Tanzania gets less number of visitors (850,000) annually, but cashes in more money than Kenya, in addition to having well-kept National Parks that have not been destroyed," pointed out Nyange.

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