Monday, November 20, 2017

Tanga nature reserve set to shift to commercial eco-tourism

By George Sembony

Korogwe: The management of the Tanga Region-based Nilo Nature Reserve (NNR) has begun to move away from the traditionally pure protectionist role of forest reserved areas to a more commercially based eco-tourist drive to attract more domestic and foreign visitors.

According to NNR conservator Fabian Mukome, the change is designed to increase sustainability of the nature attractions with the ultimate of increasing its contribution to tourist revenues.

Speaking in an interview at the reserve headquarters at the weekend, Mr Mukome underscored the role of the private sector in promoting such nature attractions.

He called on the government to fast track implementation of the new five-year Eco-Tourism Development Plan that would allow private investors to build facilities in reserves, a factor that would attract tourists to those reserves.

“We are embarking on a serious promotion drive but we are, however, being affected by lack of funds to effectively reach our goal,” said Mr Mukome. The management organized a day long workshop for tour operators, hoteliers and the media from the northern zone.

It was followed by a day’s visit of the reserve which has abundant attractions including various types of rare chameleons, birds, animals and plants, apart from waterfalls and a historical spring that is being revered by Anglicans.

According to word of mouth, a missionary, Bishop Weston, prayed for water at the point after one of the potters was so thirst that he could not continue with safari to Kizara Village where a church was established.

The natural resources advisor of the Tanga Regional Secretariat, Mr Timothy Sosiya, who attended the workshop emphasized the crucial role of the private sector that dominates the tourism and hospitality industry in promoting the tourist attractions in nature reserves such as Nilo.

Mr Sosiya said Tanga Region is well endowed with a vast wealth of natural resources which include forests rich in biodiversity and the ocean where tourists can choose to include in their excursions.

Tanga has is home to three of the country’s 12 Nature Reserves. Apart from Nilo, there is the famous Amani Nature Reserve (ANR) located in the same East Usambara Mountains and the Magamba Nature Reserve in West Usambaras.

He revealed that the regional secretariat is organizing a tourism sector stakeholders meeting for Tanga Region, “We hope to prepare a joint plan with the stakeholders to promote tourism in the region with a special emphasis on developing eco-tourism in Nature reserves in the region.”

He underscored the need to jointly conduct serious awareness programs aimed at removing default frames that out tourism as only involving foreigners.

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