Compelling need for Tanzania to move faster on tourism front

09Jan 2019
Dar es Salaam
The Guardian
Compelling need for Tanzania to move faster on tourism front

TANZANIA’S tourist attractions, notably national parks and game reserves but also including traditional cultural sites, have for long won many a heart inside and beyond the country’s borders.

That is without doubt primarily why various organisations keep picking them for accolades or special mention in a wide array of prestigious contests, ranging from continental ones to ‘World Natural Wonders’ and ‘World Wonders’.

Attractions such as Serengeti National Park have won several awards, one that comes readily to mind being that of World Famous Animal Migration, while Ngorongoro Crater has won several awards in competitions held in the United States and Europe.

Tanzania is one of the few destinations anywhere in the world that boast an exceptional blend of scenery, wildlife and human culture, this amid suggestions that it could well stand as the only one of its kind still in existence.

This is makes us fast rewind to that memorable day in mid-2013 when it was reported that the US National Geographic Society had just named Tanzania’s Ruaha National Park, by most accounts the second largest wildlife sanctuary in Africa, one of the ‘Best Winter Trips for 2013’.

A report released by Karen Hoffman, President of the US-based Bradford Group, described Ruaha was one of the best winter destinations in the world in part owing to its near infinite richness in wildlife and scenic beauty.

Hoffman, speaking in his capacity as Tanzania Tourist Board’s representative in the US, gave some of the attributes that made the park beat the competition: its unique wildlife, including birds, and availability of a peaceful environment for wild game viewing by Tanzanian and foreign tourists.

There was every reason for Tanzanians to applaud the landmark development in the honour bestowed to the park. Indeed, the news was both comforting and gratifying, and the Tanzania Tourist Board was quick to admit as much.

The board said this was impeccable proof that our country was increasingly being recognized globally for its vastly developed tourist attractions not only in the popular northern circuit but also in the southern and western parts that had remained ‘isolated’ for years – even decades.

The prize-winning Ruaha National Park is home to a high concentration of elephants and at least 570 species of birds and 40 of fish. Despite all this, and being increasingly popular globally, it is yet to become as famous as attractions in the northern and eastern parts of the country.

In a February 09, 2018 blog, a commentator gave these as her five reasons to visit Ruaha National Park: it’s a predator paradise, it boasts outstanding biodiversity, it is a birding bonanza, it has breathtaking landscapes, and it lives in complete isolation.

To paraphrase the blogger a bit, one would be forgiven if one has never heard of Ruaha National Park, as it seems to be one of the best kept secrets in the safari world. But those who know it and have been fortunate enough to visit it return again and again to this truly unique and diverse wilderness.

The blogger was far from exaggerating in suggesting that nowhere would one be more spoilt for choice than in the Ruaha when it came to a spectacular setting to enjoy some of the finest sunsets and sunrises Africa has to offer?

For, surely the park largely remains “an untouched wilderness just waiting to be explored and admired” and a perfect destination for those “who truly want to escape and let the park guide back to the quieter pace of life dictated by nature”.

So, there is every need to invest more in its development and promotion so as capture more, and reap more from, the tourism that is likely to develop from its very name.

For example, if one is to talk of hotels, hunting safaris, photographing and the like, how many organisations exist in the area and are ready to offer such services?

What about transport services to and from the area? With respect to bird and animal viewing – are there enough designated sites for tourists to engage in this to the full? And the list of questions can run on and on.

Clues we are privy to have it that there is serious work going on towards the happy end we are all dying to witness. With that, fast-tracking is perhaps the much we can pray for.