Iringa. In a bid to promote tourism in the Southern Highlands regions, the Ministry of Natural Resources and Tourism has launched a festival dubbed ‘Welcome to the Southern Highlands for Tourism and Investment.’
Through the three-day festival, authorities in the Southern Highland Regions responsible for tourism will be showcasing various tourist attractions.
Speaking during the ceremony to launch the festival, Natural Resources and Tourism deputy minister Costantine Kanyasu said although the zone has been blessed with abundant tourist destinations, these have had little contribution in terms of earning foreign exchange.
Hence he challenged regional authorities and stakeholders in tourism to do more in order to promote the sector in the zone.
“We must do more to promote tourism in the Southern Highlands regions. There are ample unique tourist attractions. We hope that through this festival and other expos, these will become known and hence attract more visitors,” noted Mr Kinyasu.
For his part, Iringa Regional Commissioner Ally Hapi called for more investment in service provision, particularly, hotels.
“Let’s take an example of the Ruaha National Park. There are only 570 rooms in hotels located within the park and only 150 outside; what if we receive 1,000 tourists at a per?” queried Mr Hapi.
Mr Hapi said that the number of tourists, who visited Ruaha national park in 2018/19 was 28,325.
The Deputy Speaker of the National Assembly, Dr Tulia Ackson, said apart from regional heads, it was important that all other people of authority in the regions played a role in promoting tourism in the southern circuit.
The country now wants to aggressively promote the Southern Highlands, where essentially there several unexplored attractions than the North, including the country’s largest National Park, Ruaha, Africa’s largest Game Reserve, Selous, the world’s flower haven, Kitulo. The Southern Circuit includes Katavi, Kitulo, Mahale, Udzungwa Mountains, Mikumi national parks, three rift valley lakes (Nyasa, Rukwa and Tanganyika), areas of cultural interest, and access to the primary gateway town of Iringa.
Initiatives to include the South into global tourism map are being undertaken by regional administrative secretaries from seven southern precincts, including Iringa, Mbeya, Njombe, Rukwa, Katavi, Songwe and the slightly central, Morogoro.
The move, according to Iringa Regional Administrative Secretary Hapiness Saneda is not aimed at shifting tourism focus from the North to the South, but rather to roll out more attractions so that the country could get new varieties of leisure visitors as well as persuading those who had already toured Tanzania to come back for new adventures.