World Bank approves $150m credit for tourism development in Tanzania’s southern circuit

What you need to know:

  • It will improve the management of natural resources and tourism assets
  • Tanzania’s number of visitors has doubled

Dar es Salaam. The World Bank has approved $150 million (about Sh330 billion) credit to help improving the management of natural resources and tourism assets in priority areas of southern Tanzania over the next six years.

The credit from the International Development Association (IDA) through the Resilient Natural Resource Management for Tourism and Growth Project (Regrow) targets to benefit nearly 40,000 households around the protected areas, according to a statement emailed yesterday.

Regrow development objective is to improve the management of natural resources and tourism assets in priority areas of the southern circuit, and to increase access to alternative livelihood activities for targeted communities.

The Southern Circuit includes several National Parks (Katavi, Kitulo, Mahale, Udzungwa Mountains, Mikumi and Ruaha), Game Reserves (with Selous being the largest), two rift valley lakes (Nyasa and Tanganyika), areas of cultural interest, and access to the primary gateway town of Iringa.

Regrow is expected to promote investments inside four protected areas, considered to be catalytic for the consolidation of the circuit: Ruaha, Mikumi and Udzungwa Mountains National Parks, and Selous Game Reserve.Combined, these areas cover 75,446 square km.

“Tourism is a key element of Tanzania’s economy, contributing to roughly 10 per cent of GDP in 2015,” said the World Bank country director for Tanzania, Malawi, Somalia and Burundi Ms Bella Bird.

“The country is endowed with world renowned biodiversity and wildlife attractions but most people tend to be familiar with just its northern circuit. The assets of the southern circuit can increase the number of tourists arriving to the country, thus increasing economic benefits and promoting wildlife conservation. For this to happen, infrastructure and services need to be improved, and the destination needs to be further promoted to potential visitors,” she added.

Tanzania’s number of visitors has doubled from about 500,000 in 2000 to over 1.2 million in 2016. The sector generated ove $2 billion in 2016 and provides direct employment to over 400,000 Tanzanians.

 Due to its success in attracting higher-spending tourism, the country now boasts the highest revenue/tourist ratio in Sub-Saharan Africa.

“By consolidating the southern circuit as a viable destination, Tanzania will guarantee a more diversified, robust tourism offering; the additional revenue generated in the Southern Circuit will facilitate the conservation of these unique, unspoiled Southern Protected Areas, and become an engine for regional growth. The diversification will also ease mounting pressures of the Northern Circuit, thus enabling its continued ability deliver a unique wildlife experience,” said the World Bank’s senior environmental specialist Daniel Mira-Salama who is also the Task Team Leader for Regrow.