Speaking after the approval of the plan, Minister for Natural Resources and Tourism Dr Hamisi Kigwangalla described the move as a milestone in Tanzania’s quest to increasing the number of tourists visiting the country annually.
The new national parks will be carved out of the present-day Kigosi Game Reserve in Kigoma Region as well as the expansive Ugalla Game Reserve located in the nearby Tabora Region.
The three will up the number of national parks from 19 land parks currently managed by the Tanzania National Parks (TANAPA) to 22 plus two marine parks namely the Mafia Island Marine Park on the coastal zone and Mnazi Bay-Ruvuma Estuary Marine Park.
“With 24 national parks the country will top the continent with the highest number of national parks, eclipsing Kenya which has 23,” Dr Kigwangalla said.
The minister expressed optimism that by taking the lead in the number of national parks, Tanzania will be better placed than before in her efforts to boost international tourism along with garnering much needed foreign exchange.
“This gives us an advantage in marketing the country as the tourist destination with the highest number of attractions,” he pointed out.
However, contributing earlier, a section of MPs cautioned that there were burning issues that ought to have been ironed out before going ahead with the programme.
Presenting recommendations of the Parliamentary Committee for Lands, Natural Resources and Tourism, chairperson Kemilembe Lwota said that ensuring the prevention of conflicts with regard to the new national parks, the government should work with communities living within or near the protected areas to revisit boundaries.
“There are legally recognized villages within the parks. There are many people engaged in beekeeping activities within both parks and also a sizeable number of people whose livelihoods depend on fishing on River Ugalla,” Lwota said.
In July, President John Magufuli issued a directive for the establishment of Nyerere National Park, which will be carved out of the upper section of the Selous Game Reserve.
Before the directive, the president had commissioned the Burigi-Chato National Park which was upgraded from game reserve status.