Arusha — THE Tanzania National Parks (TANAPA) is in the process of building tourist hotels in a number of the country's National Parks.
TANAPA's Director General, Mr Allan Kijazi, says that the custodian of the National Parks has started operating tourist property in the country's 16 game parks, especially the most visited attractions.
"All hotels, lodges and campsites operating in our National Parks are privately owned and run," explained Mr Kijazi, adding that TANAPA has very little, if any, control over the related business and especially what the investors charge visitors or the type of services being offered.
Foreign-owned properties in National Parks have also been described as the main stumbling blocks in the development of domestic tourism since their boarding packages have always been very expensive and usually targeting foreign visitors.
Property in the parks charge between 350 US dollars and 1,500 dollars per room, per night, which means local Tanzanians are automatically walled from accessing their services and as the result the related park visits are confined to only tourists from overseas countries.
"TANAPA intends to construct luxurious lodges in the country's largest National Park; Ruaha, the second largest Serengeti, as well as in Mikumi Game Park in order to diversify tourism by extending the industry southwards," said Mr Kijazi, adding that the fourth lodge will be built in Tarangire, famous for its giant elephants and tree-climbing pythons.
Recently, the parliamentary committee in charge of Land, Natural Resources and Environment, led by Legislator James Lembeli toured some of the National Parks, including Serengeti, where they wanted to know why all properties operating in the game parks were foreign-owned.
They also demanded to be told why both the Tanzania National Parks (TANAPA) and Ngorongoro Conservation Area Authority (NCAA) did not bid to buy properties formerly operated under the state-owned, Tanzania Hotels Investment when they were put up for sale a decade ago.
Mr Kijazi explained that the Parastatal Sector Reform Commission which was supervising sales of properties, had made it clear that institutions like TANAPA and NCAA would not be permitted to place bids for the hotels because, "One parastatal could not be allowed to buy another parastatal."