TANAPA Conservation Commissioner Dr Allan Kijazi said here at the weekend that earnings have dwindled because the global travel industry has slumped with the emergence of the disease currently wreaking havoc in China.
Dr Kijazi raised the concern in Arusha at a ceremony to inaugurate the Tanzania National Parks Board of Trustees, graced by the Minister for Natural Resources and Tourism, Dr Khamis Kigwangalla.
The tourism industry is dependent on foreign visitors, and as more people cancel their flights and hotel bookings, national parks’ earnings reap the consequences. More than 80 percent of the 1.5 million annual tourist arrivals target wildlife-based tourism in national parks, game reserves and conservation areas.
Dr Kijazi also said ongoing torrential rains were another deterrent for tourists, as most roads leading to and around national parks were damaged by floods thus reducing the number of visitors touring those destinations.
“We are also spending billions to repair the infrastructures,” said Dr Kijazi, noting that the unplanned expenses were eating into the budget as well. “TANAPA is also spending a lot to support the newly established national parks,” he observed.
The newly inaugurated TANAPA Board is chaired by General (rtd) George Waitara, Commissioner Nsato Marijani from the police force, Prof Wineaster Anderson from the University of Dar es Salaam and Dr Ruth Lungisha of the National Environment Management Council (NEMC).
Others are Dr Chanasa Ngeleja from the Ministry of Livestock and Fisheries, Dr George Fumbuka - economist and financial adviser, Dr Devotha Mdachi - executive director of the Tanzania Tourist Board, Dr Maurus Msuha - the Director of Wildlife and Dr Allan Kijazi, CEO of TANAPA.
Dr Kigwangalla said there is need for price discrimination in the parks so that the popular destinations such as Ngorongoro, Serengeti and Mount Kilimanjaro feature higher prices in order to encourage tourists to visit other parks whose pricing will be on the lower end.
“Essentially all parks in Tanzania have similar attractions. It is only that some are more promoted than others,” he added.