TANZANIA Forest Service (TFS) has organized a tourism festival aimed at promoting forest conservation and ecotourism to supplement government efforts to increase the number of tourists to 5 million come 2025.
The festival dubbed 'West Kilimanjaro Run and Mountain Forest Bike' will be held on July 10 this year and will include running, mountain biking and hiking.
West Kilimanjaro Forest Plantation Tourism Officer MensieurEllywho also doublesas the Race Coordinator said that the event will include running of 5kms, 10kms and 22kms,mountain biking 10kms and 22kms and 5kms hiking.
"People who will walk for 5kms will have an opportunity to pass through waterfalls found within the forest plantation and see different attractions, such as natural ecosystems and different wild animals such as monkey, baboons, white and black colobus," he said.
He said the festival is part of the implementation of Chama Cha Mapinduzi Election Manifesto 2020- 2025 to increase the number of tourists to five million in the next five years and boost revenue from the sector.
"TFS has started to work on the manifesto to support the government efforts so that we can attain the said objective in a given time frame," he said.
Plantation Forest Conservator,Masawanga Ismail said that since TFS is entrusted tooversee national forest reserves, it has also the responsibility of encouraging people tovisit variousattractions in the forests.
"The aim of this festival is to attract Tanzanians and foreign visitors to visit our natural forests and see different attractions," he said.
He noted that West Kilimanjaro Forest Plantation also has attractions such as caves, elephant pool, and a variety of flora and fauna.
On her part, TFS Communication Manager, Martha Chasama said that the festival was crucial for heragency to collaborate with other stakeholders topromote ecotourism.
CCM electionmanifesto directs the government to increase the number of tourists to five million in the next five years and boost revenue from the sector from US dollars 2.9 billion to US dollars 6 billion.
To realize the plan, the governmentsaid it will widen tourism attractions by promoting conference, hunting and beach tourism and also build infrastructure that will enable tourism vessels to market the country's tourist's sites.
According to the 2018 International Visitors Exit Survey Report, the number of tourists in Tanzania increased to 1.5 million in 2018, compared to 1.3 million in 2017.
According to the Ministry of Natural Resources and Tourism, tourism activities generated $2.4bn in 2018, an increase of 7.2 per cent from $2.3bn earned in 2017.
An increase in the number of tourists was largely attributed by the ongoing promotional efforts by the sixth phase government coupled with beautiful tourist attractions in the country.
The report showed that top 15 source markets accounted for 71.8 per cent of total visitors, with the United States taking the lead for accounting for 15.6 per cent, followed by Kenya and the UK.