Minister for Information, Culture, Art and Sports, Harrison Mwakyembe has lauded organisers of the Kilimanjaro Premium Lager Marathon for promoting sports tourism in the country and called on other local marathons to follow suit.
He made the remarks during a special meeting with organisers of the event after a successful launch of the marathon last month, where the minister was the guest of honour after which he decided to call the organisers for a brainstorming session to among other things discuss ways of promoting athletics in the country.
The Kilimanjaro Marathon organising committee was represented by Chief Organiser John Addison, CEO of Wild Frontiers, who developed the Kili Marathon idea, Aggrey Marealle CEO of Executive Solutions Ltd PR/Event Coordinators and John Bayo, Race Director. All are founder members.
In view of the participation of nearly 11000 runners from 58 nationalities in the Kilimanjaro Marathon, Minister Mwakyembe stated the need for closer cooperation between his Ministry and the Ministry for Tourism to create synergies for both sports and tourism development.
"The Kilimanjaro Marathon has promoted sports tourism to a great extent as participants are able to do a lot of tourism around Kilimanjaro region and other parts of the country where there are various tourist attractions," he said adding that, athletics does not just have a health benefit, but it is also a major foreign exchange earner for Tanzania.
The Minister called upon all marathon hosting regions to ensure they maximize the economic benefits of the marathons by creating cultural and other social activities for locals and tourists in the days before and after the marathon events, which will result in week long activities boosting local economies and creating jobs.
He also expressed his delight at how Marathons were mushrooming in almost every region but emphasized the need to have clear rules and criteria to ensure smooth events and tasked the Director for Sports to ensure this.
The Minister also stressed the need to view sports not just as having a health benefit but also as a serious economic activity and potentially a major foreign exchange earner.
The Kilimanjaro Marathon sponsors include Kilimanjaro Premium Lager-42 km, Tigo- 21 Km, Grand Malt-5km.
Water table sponsors include Kilimanjaro Water, TPC Limited, Simba Cement, Barclays Bank and official suppliers include Kibo Palace Hotel, Keys Hotel, GardaWorld Security, Precision Air and CMC Automobiles.
Meanwhile, Minister Mwakyembe also lauded organisers of the Kilimanjaro Marathon for agreeing to help the John Steven Akhwari race off the ground as it is set to take place in June next year.
The organisers are working with other key stakeholders, Athletics Tanzania (AT) and the local organising committee of the event-The John Steven Akhwari Foundation to put various criteria in place and help with the skills transferal process to ensure that this event is a success and starts to gain the recognition it deserves in honour of the great man who is recognized by the Olympic movement as representing the spirit of the Olympics that is courage and determination.
Speaking on behalf of the organizer, Marealle lauded the Minister for his tremendous support over the years adding that his support of the event over the years has given not only the organisers, but the sponsors and various stakeholders' great credibility in terms of their association to the event.