Karatu — PRESIDENT Jakaya Kikwete has directed that there should be no more construction of hotels in the Ngorongoro Conservation Area (NCA), urging interested investors to put up their structures in Karatu Township instead.
Addressing thousands of people from Karatu, Ngorongoro and Mto-wa-Mbu area who gathered at Mazingira Bora Grounds in Karatu, Mr Kikwete pointed out that the 50 properties currently operating within the NCA were enough.
The president's decision is likely to please green activists and other environmentalists around the globe, including the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO), that had previously raised alarm over increasing human activities in the NCA.
Ngorongoro Crater National Park which falls under the jurisdiction of the Ngorongoro Conservation Area Authority (NCAA), is the country's most visited tourist attraction, attracting over 500,000 visitors per annum. Tanzania's annual tourist traffic averages one million.
"To preserve the environment as well as the crater's international status as world heritage site, the government will not permit the construction of new hotels or lodges in the conservation area and anybody who wants to set up such properties should now think of acquiring land in Karatu," President Kikwete said amid applause.
The president was of the view that in line with the decision, it is also high time Karatu got its well-deserved status as a tourist centre; in that tourists would stop over in the township while on their way to and from Ngorongoro Crater, Serengeti and Lake Manyara national parks.
"Karatu already has modern and attractive hotels, but we want more such properties to be built here so that tourists may even choose to simply come and spend their time in the township," Mr Kikwete remarked.
He also stated that the government will expand the Lake Manyara Airstrip so that more aircraft could land there, thus boosting tourism in the conservation area.
The area's Member of Parliament, Reverend Israel Natse, praised the Kikwete administration, saying that even though Karatu was an opposition (Chadema) stronghold, the president was still in the forefront in ensuring that development projects in the district were executed timely.
"We very much acknowledge the fact that even though Chadema is in control of Karatu, CCM was governing the country," said Reverend Natse, who reminded the head of state about the latter's promise to tarmac Karatu roads.
The president assured Rev. Natse that the government was still committed to upgrading roads inside Karatu Township, to bituminous standards for a total distance of 10 kilometres, in addition to the initial plan to surface two kilometres.
The Karatu District Commissioner (DC), Mr Felix Daudi Ntibenda, told the president that when it came to security, Karatu topped all other districts for being the safest place one could ever be in, adding that the fact alone was the most viable component in reinforcing the area's position as a tourist hub.