Tourism players’ to-do list for new Arusha regional supremo

Makonda pix

Mr Paul Makonda, who was recently appointed Arusha regional commissioner. PHOTO | FILE

What you need to know:

  • Newly appointed Arusha regional commissioner Paul Makonda has been asked to stimulate economic activities in the region and make the tourism hub more attractive to visitors

Arusha. Newly appointed Arusha regional commissioner Paul Makonda has been asked to stimulate economic activities in the region and make the tourism hub more attractive to visitors.

Cleaning up the streets and neighbourhoods, filling potholes on major roads and bringing sanity to commuter transport are among tasks awaiting Mr Makonda in his new role.

“For Arusha to retain its status as a tourism hub, it has to be clean with painted buildings,” said Tanzania Chamber of Commerce, Industry and Agriculture (TCCIA) chairman in the region Walter Maeda.

“When Makonda sets foot in Arusha, he should focus on productive sectors such as tourism and good governance instead of politicking,” noted Mr Andrew Malalika, a tour business player.

He said the new RC, who will be sworn in tomorrow, should ensure massive upgrading or expansion of the roads to end jams on the roads and ensure smooth flow of traffic.

“Arusha has its known local politics. At the same time, it is a ‘working’ capital. The latter should be his main focus,” Mr Malalika told The Citizen when reached on the phone.

Mr Malalika, a member of the Arusha-based Tanzania Association of Tour Operators (Tato), said the new regional supremo should also work closely with the private sector.

He added that tourism, the lifeline of the region’s economy, should be supported with improved roads, especially those connecting the city with the national parks and other iconic sites.

Other priorities that the regional authorities should do is enhance ecological status of the game parks and allied the tourism sites in the region to sustain tourism.

“There is no tourism without conservation”, he said, noting that the issue of conservation was not a one-person effort, but should be undertaken by all stakeholders.

According to Mr Malalika, who is also director of Jackpot Tours and Safaris, plastic waste along the roads leading to the national parks was another challenge.

Mr Aafez Jivraj, another Arusha-based tour operator, said Mr Makonda, a firebrand ruling party cadre, should not be expected to tackle all the woes facing the tourism sector after assuming office as RC.

However, he can exert much influence in the corridors of power on how to put in place systems that can take the leading forex generating sector to another level.

He cited outdated laws and regulations on game-controlled areas which were crafted many years ago when many of the outlying areas in the region were sparsely populated.

These include the Mto-wa-Mbu area along the road to Karatu which was gazetted as a protected area in 1974 but which is now among the fastest growing settlements in the region.

“It is still considered a game-controlled area yet it has migrated to a large human settlement. This is a contradiction and defeats our tourism goals,” Mr Jivraj told The Citizen.

He said although tourism has rebound in Arusha with an increased number of visitors, there are some challenges which need to be addressed urgently.

Notable among them are the power failures which have worsened in recent days and poor condition of roads leading to Ngorongoro and Serengeti National Park.

A trader, Mr Erasto Meleji, asked  Arusha residents to give the necessary support to Mr Makonda when he assumes office because he is a presidential appointee.

He said the narratives going around that the newly appointed regional boss would cling to partisan politics should be discouraged and to not hold water.

“Being a presidential appointee, he would be here to implement the directives of his boss and would serve the people of Arusha regardless of their political camps,” Mr Meleji added.

He, however, asked the new RC to initiate aggressive marketing of the region and the country at large in major tourism source markets abroad to increase the number of visitors.

“Arusha remains our number one tourism hub. This is evident with the surge of visitors to the national parks. What is needed is improvement of the roads.”

Tato chairman Wilbard Chamburo said Mr Makonda as the chairman of the region’s Defence and Security Committee should spearhead efforts to make Arusha more secure.

“I am talking of security for the tourists and the locals as well.Tourism is such a fragile sector that anything negative on the security of visitors can have a damaging effect,” he said.

Mr Chamburo, who owns hotels, lodges and tented camps in the northern circuit, added that he was concerned about the ecological status of some protected areas which double as tourist sites.

He partly attributed this to invasion of the national parks in particular by livestock keepers with their large herds, growing human population and other factors.

Mr Allen Mmbaga, a tour firm operator, said instead of focusing on political wrangles, the new RC should turn his energies to improve socio-economic services.

Challenges facing the tourism sector include a host of taxes and levies which, according to him, have negatively impacted on the locally-owned companies.

Improvement of roads should extend to the national parks and other remote tourist attractions as some were in a “pathetic condition”, Mr Mmbaga said.

Dr Firmin Nguma, who heads the”The Arusha We Want” lobby, said he has a simple message to the new regional boss; change Arusha to a modern and prosperous city.