VICE-PRESIDENT Samia Suluhu Hassan yesterday set in motion the Resilient Natural Resource Management for Tourism and Growth Project (REGROW), emphasizing on restoration of River Ruaha ecology, construction of roads and Iringa airport for bringing more tourists into southern circuit.
REGROW aims at improving management of natural resources and tourism assets in priority areas of Southern Tanzania, as well as increasing access to alternative livelihood activities of the targeted communities.
The six-year project, funded from a 340bn/ World Bank soft loan is expected to open up tourism potential in the southern part of the country, turning the area into economic engine of growth and job creation and expanding the tourism scope and helps in increasing the number of visiting tourists to 2 million annually by 2020. Tanzania tourist arrivals airport and Iringa-Ruaha National Park road.
"If priority given to these areas, they will bring large planes into Iringa for tourism purpose," she said. But she cautioned the National Environment Management Council (NEMC) against delays in doing environmental assessments, saying the assessments should not hold back the project.
However, Ms Samia was thrilled after hearing that the project would also work with the taskforce she previously formed to restore the ecology of Ruaha Mkuu River to make it have water flowing throughout a year. "This will be a major step that would lead to increase of number of tourists. I therefore ask for coordinated work Continues on Page 3 Report: We love village life reached 1,284,279 in 2016 versus 1,137,182 tourists in 2015.
During the project launch at Kihesa grounds in Iringa region, the VP told the implementers to give priority to construction of Iringa Ndulibetween the task force and the implementers of the project... we all have a duty to bring back the life of the Ruaha River, let's work together," she stated. She admitted that on her visit in the region she witnessed challenges facing the road infrastructures towards the tourist attractions, promising that the government is now committed to improving them.
"Let me assure you that the government has real intent to boost tourism sector by expanding road network and have concrete strategies to put in place tourist attractions," she said.
Like it is for northern zone, likewise for southern part which has also been blessed with vast tourist attractions, for instance, Ruaha National Park, Udzungwa Mountains National Park, and Selous Game Reserve. Some of these attractions in the Southern part are in the list of the World Heritage Sites. In addition, the southern circuit is rich in heritage tourism, including historical sites such as Kalenga and Isimila located in Iringa region.
WB Country Director Bella Bird said that with the REGROW Tanzania would create new engine of growth and protect its natural resources. She however sounded the importance of full participation of the private sector in carrying out of the project; saying to unleash the potential of the southern circuit, the participation of private sector was a key.
Earlier, the Minister for Natural Resources and Tourism, Dr Hamisi Kigwangalla explained that low public awareness near the national parks and pouching remained major threats to the tourism sector - and called for heightened public awareness education in the area