Between June 2015 and mid this year, revenue collected from tourism activities by Mafia District Council went up by about 1,333 per cent, which is an increase of 40m/-.
The council’s Executive Director, Erick Mapunda, told The Banker recently that the revenue from the industry increased from 3m/- in 2015/2016 to 43m/- in 2016/2017. Mapunda revealed the positive result of the marketing blitzes when commenting on efforts being made by the local authorities to promote the island and its attractions.
“One of the major tourist attractions here is whale sharks watching that has tremendously helped us to get more revenue and attract more international visitors from Europe, Asia and other African countries who are increasingly visiting our district,” he said.
According to him, locals are being trained on the economic potential and importance of the giant fish that are seasonally found just a few hundred metres offshore near Kilindoni Harbour. Mapunda said fishermen and the general public at large are also educated on how to protect the rare species.
“We train local fishers to be extra careful with this endangered species during their fishing activities and advise them to observe fishing practices that do not cause harm or distress to whale sharks,” Mapunda said.
“The fish is an economic asset enabling us to obtain more revenue from the tourism industry. We use this income for investment in social and economic development projects,” he added.
Currently there are 17 tourist hotels that have directly employed 380 people. During the last financial year, the district hosted 5,000 tourists who mostly came to see the whale sharks.
Mapunda said the district aims to lure more domestic tourists and international visitors in future to help meet the government target of ensuring that Tanzania hosts three million holidaymakers and business travellers by 2018.
Apart from more marketing drives, the council also expects to benefit a lot from researches being undertaken by experts from different parts of the world on whale sharks conservation.
Another major attraction in Mafia are marine turtles, in which the local authorities in conjunction with various communities and organisations such as Village Alliance Committees, Sea Sense and World Wildlife Fund (WWF are investing time and resources to help conserve.
Mafia is also endowed with an endangered tree species, Philippia Mafiensis, which is found only in Tanzania and Madagascar only.