The number of national parks in Tanzania has reached 21, thanks to lawmakers’ endorsement of a bill to upgrade five game reserves last Saturday. But, some firebrand legislators had questioned the rationale for upgrading the reserves when only five of the extant 16 parks were profitable.
Surely, the addition may sound nice; but it will be a huge burden on the Tanzania National Parks Authority (Tanapa).
The newly-declared national parks are Biharamulo, Burigi, Kimisi, Ibanda and Rumanyika.
National parks are a “treasure house of nature’s superlatives,” Ken Burns’ documentary series say. But we might be vainly upgrading some game reserves.
If truth be told, some national parks are still facing age-old challenges. Recent reports show that eleven of the parks are loss-making. It is, therefore, imperative that the government focuses on tourism infrastructure, which is a determinant of the sector’s growth.
Quality roads, hotels, health services – to mention but a few – are still lacking in these newly-‘promoted’ parks.
Multibillion projects should start in earnest if these parks are to attract more local and foreign visitors.
Admittedly, efforts are being made to boost the number of tourist arrivals; but we need a more aggressive strategy for that, too.