26 December 2012

Tanzania: Nature Reserves Boost Tourism Prospects

Three Nature Reserves in the country believe Tanzania holds a comparative advantage of earning more from international tourism receipts per visitor.

In various interviews with 'Daily News', tourism heads from Kilombero Nature Reserve, Nilo Nature Reserve and Amani Nature Reserve said they expect to double tourism prospects next year.

The Head of tourism at Amani Nature Reserve Tourists Godfrey Msumari said they expect to double tourists in 2013 following a significant funding from Eastern Arc Mountains Conservation Endowment Fund (EAMCEF) which has enabled them to scale up tourist infrastructure in the reserve.

He said that despite being among areas endowed with high-profile tourism destinations, poor mechanism for advertising local sightseeing attractions was the main factor that crippled the country's tourism. Amani Nature Reserve is located in East Usambara.

He said they were currently getting 800 tourists per year and target is to double the number next year. The reserve has over 344 bird species and 100 species of trees, surrounded by 19 villages. Mr Msumari said that of the fees charged on tourists every year, 20 percent of the income is shared with villages surrounding the reserve.

The Kilombero Nature Reserve range Manager Frank Sima said the Eastern Arc Mountains Conservation Endowment Fund (EAMCEF) has funded the Nature reserves to put up infrastructure to facilitate tourists as they go around the attractions. He said they get 20 tourists per year, many of them from Germany, but noted that the number should grow for the Nature Reserve to exploit its full potential.

He said many of them come through Lushoto, to Sadani National Park and to Amani Nature Reserve. He said poor tourism promotional mechanisms should not hinder Tanzania from fully exploiting the sector. In the current fiscal year, the country is spending about 5bn/- to promote domestic tourism, basically through improving services and advertising tourism attraction sites abroad.

Tourism contribution to the national GDP has been growing from eight per cent in 2000, to 13.4 per cent in 2005, before jumping to 15 per cent in 2006 and 15.5 in 2007. It however dropped to 14.3 in 2008. It is expected that the number of tourists visiting Africa would more than double in the next 15 years, improving prospects for the industry, as there is an increase in number of both natural and cultural attractions.

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