Arusha — ARUSHA city ranks second after Dar es Salaam in terms of the number of quality hotel beds despite being the country's tourist hub, a government official has said.
The municipal city which receives more than 80 per cent of the total number of foreign visitors, deserves more than the 2800 tourist-standard hotel beds, according to Deputy Minister for Natural Resources and Tourism Mr Lazaro Nyalandu. "Arusha should even be better than Mwanza which, despite being relatively larger and densely populated, the Lake-Zone City has around 900 hotel beds, the same number found in Kilimanjaro region," said Mr Nyalandu.
He was speaking on the occasion to officially inaugurate the new 'Palace Hotel' located at the city centre and which was opened by the Minister for Land, Housing and Human Settlements Development, Prof Anna Tibaijuka.The property boasting 97 rooms and three modest conference halls, is owned by the National Housing Corporation but the hospitality business is operated by 'Palace Hotels Limited,' in a joint venture with NHC. The premises were constructed at a cost of 16bn/- between 2008 and 2011.
The nation's tourist hub is also a gateway to the northern circuit, but has 2,800 hotel beds only. The capital, Dar es Salaam takes a fairly larger ratio with 3,500 beds.Overall Tanzania has a total of 15,000 hotel beds, the same number as Nairobi, the Kenyan capital, which is half those of the neighbouring country coastline which boasts 28,000 beds.
Examples drawn from Kenya show that the country with nearly 1.5 million tourists traffic per year, is Tanzania's direct competitor , which only records an annual intake of 850,000 tourists, according to the Deputy Tourism Minister.It was revealed that a limited number of hotel beds might have something to do with less number of leisure visitors coming into the country which targets to attract around 1.6 million tourists by 2015.
Tanzania's most popular destination, the Serengeti National Park (measuring 1.5 million hectares), has just 1,540 hotel beds while the neighbouring
Maasai Mara, on the Kenyan side whose size is 30 per cent of Serengeti, has more than 5,000 hotel beds.
Prof Anne Tibaijuka said for years NHC has been concentrating on building residential houses and business properties in urban centres neglecting communities living in rural areas. She pointed out that Tanzania is experiencing a shortage of over two million housing units, countrywide.
The NHC Director General, Mr Nehemia Mchechu, explained that the 'Palace Hotel,' was a shining example on how the National Housing Corporation intends to work with the private sector through the Public-Private-Partnership (PPP) Act, for the country's development.
The NHC-Palace Hotels joint venture, according to the Executive Chairman of Palace Hotels, Dr Hans Macha, so far produces a revenue of 151m/- per year, a major increase from the previous annual 31m/- which the NHC used to get from previous arrangements, when it ran a commercial block with shops on the same plot.
Dr Macha added that the other advantage of Palace Hotel was that it employed 120 people, mostly Tanzanians and the management has also taken the initiative to improve the public gardens located opposite the hotel,along Old Makongoro Road.