THE Tanzania National Parks (TANAPA) has recorded a remarkable increase in revenue collection of over 556bn/-, equivalent to 60 per cent over the past three years.
TANAPA Conservation Commissioner, Dr Allan Kijazi, observed during a media briefing session on the achievements recorded by the fifth phase administration over the past four years.
Dr Kijazi said between the financial year 2015/16, they collected 175,089,696,000/-, and 207,587,218,000/- (2016/17), 254,794,242,000 (2017/18) and 279,406,200,806/- for 2018/2019.
"The achievements are a result of several initiatives carried out within and outside the country with the aim of boosting the number of tourists visiting the country from 957,576 in 2015/16 to 1,141,462 (2018/19), an increase of 19.2 per cent," said Dr Kijazi.
He further pointed out that TANAPA has boosted the country's revenues from 31bn/- in the financial year 2016/2017 to 42bn/- in 2018/2019.
The commissioner added that over the past four years, TANAPA has allocated 111,374,526,023bn/- for the execution of development projects between the financial year 2016/2017 to 2018/2019.
Such projects have strengthened tourism services, including the construction of lodging facilities, staff houses, work equipment, vehicles and planes.
To that end, there has been an increase on the number of beds from 2,400 to 5,829 beds for international tourists and 3,601 beds to 4,970 for domestic tourists, making a total of 10,799 beds.
"With the major reforms in the sector, the number of foreign tourists has also gone up from 518,457 to 715,314 due to the increased new market coverage in the Asia and Far East in countries like Israeli, Turkey, China and Russia," he added.
Elaborating further, Dr Kijazi revealed that at attaining independence in 1961, there were only three national parks including Serengeti, Lake Manyara and Arusha National Park all comprising of 17,000 square Kilometres.
From independence to the fourth administration, the country's national parks grew from three to 16, covering approximately 57,000 square kilometres.
Such expansion from independence to 2015 led to an increase of 40,000 square kilometres.
However, the establishment of three more national parks during the fifth phase government is another milestone in the tourism sector.
The three national parks are Burigi in Chato, Ibanda (Kyerwa) and Rumanyika (Karagwe). On the other hand, plans are underway to finalize the process of establishing three other parks - Nyerere National Park (formerly Selous Game Reserve), Kigosi (Kahama) and Ugalla River in Tabora.
According to the commissioner, throughout history, the six established parks during the current administration occupying 47,000 square kilometres have the largest area, compared to the 16 parks from independence covering only 40,000 square kilometres.
"In the area of conservation, the most important aspect is on how big the conserved area is and not the number of the areas. Having small conserved areas cannot suffice themselves ecologically; they eventually tend to lose its natural biodiversity," said the commissioner.
This, for the country, is a great milestone as the number of conserved area has grown to 22 national parks, covering approximately 104,000 square kilometres.
He disclosed that Tanzania's parks are considered to be among the most attractive sites in the world, thus the establishment of new conserved areas, the likes of Nyerere National Park, places Tanzania at a much better position in the sector.
Similarly, the initiative has opened up tourism opportunities in the southern part of the country such as Namtumbo (Songea) and Newala in Lindi, a new phenomena in the areas since independence.
"With the expansion of tourism sites across the country, it implies that all Tanzanians are in a better position of benefiting from their natural resources and in turn strengthen economic development," he further explained.
According to him, the achievements have been recorded due to strengthening defence and security to curb rampant poaching.
Commissioner Kijazi observed that the initiative has eradicated poaching by over 90 per cent and thus helped to restore the number of elephants in the country.