Kilimanjaro — A South Pare Mountains based cultural mountain lodge has received global recognition, a boost to cultural tourism in Tanzania.
The World Quality Commitment Award (WQC) 2016/7 has been granted to Tona Lodge after reaching the set out criteria by the Madrid-based institution, named BID (Business Initiative Directions).
In a letter sent to the Tanzania Tourist Board (TTB) and copied to Tona Lodge by Tanzania Embassy in Paris, it is noted that the Award is given to companies, organisations, institutions and individuals in recognition for their quality of service, innovation, and improvement symbolising a success in the business.
The founder of the lodge, Mr Elly Kimbwereza, and the coordinator of South Pare Tourism Cultural Centre accepting the award noted that the potential of cultural tourism in Tanzania was so huge, and time has come for it to be embraced as a mainstream one instead of being sidelined.
He said it was gratifying to receive WQC, saying it was a testimony that cultural tourism was being taken seriously.
He said the award means that nature-based tourism could contribute to social, economic and environmental benefits.
"I have always insisted that cultural tourism is one of the alternatives to rapacious resource extraction. It could earn the desperately sought income and bring in revenues to properly managed villages and protected areas in the Southern Pare," he said.
There are many hurdles to promotion of cultural tourism in Tanzania despite the abundance in cultural tourism, it is one of the most unheralded and untapped tourist destination, he noted.
To get the award Tona lodge has shown efforts to enhance better understanding among people in the Pare Mountains and directed more awareness on the great cultural heritage and civilisation that values traditions and cultures of the local people as a tool for fighting poverty and elevate the living standards of village people, noted Mr Kimbwereza.
"We started cultural tourism in Pare Mountains two decades ago, some people thought it was crazy," he said.
The award goes a long way to vindicate those of us who have been advocating for this kind of tourism that is truly socially responsible, Mr Kimbwereza noted.
The goal of cultural tourism is not just to promote our villages to the rest of the world but also to promote the assets of the nation internally and create a consensus for national development.
Mr Kimbwereza also sees a successful cultural tourism sector as creating a positive image in broader terms,which in turn can stimulate investment in other sectors.
The Tanzania Embassy in Paris took the opportunity to congratulate Tona lodge for the Award as it is recognition of its commitment to the culture of quality.
MORE INFO: ABOUT WQC
WQC is an assurance of the support of a multinational team of professionals specialized in the communication, education and promotion of quality culture. The criteria for Award are :
(1) Excellence in Leadership
(2) Quality and Productivity
(3) Business Prestige, Brands and Technology
(4) Innovation and growth.
Tona lodge was voted in by companies, organisations from 119 countries in which leaders and experts in quality and excellence submitted their votes for Tona lodge to receive the Award in the Gold category.