Dar es Salaam. Local tour operators have called for the scrapping of a single entry payment arrangement into the national parks.
According to them, the system does not encourage the tourists to visit the surrounding villages or communities and back to the parks for accommodation as they are charged for each re-entry.
“Scrapping of the single entry would also encourage construction of tourist lodges outside the protected areas and boost incomes of the existing ones,” affirmed local tour operator Levis Lewis. Single entry means a visitor has to pay each time he or she re-enters the park or an equivalent tourist site even after straddling to nearby villages and communities for additional fun.
“This is costly for the foreign visitors and the local tour operators who handle visitors,” lamented Mr Lewis, who is a member of the recently formed Tanzania Local Tour Operators (TLTO).
Under the single entry arrangement, he explained, visitors have to pay to re-enter the national parks or the Ngorongoro Conservation Area (NCA) each time in the duration of their packaged tour.
Multiple entries without additional charges would enable the visitors to access the tourist sites more than once and hence spend more days in the country, having settled the required payment in the first instance.
Mr Lewis, who is the director of the Arusha-based East Wide Adventures Tours Limited, said the single entry system into the parks is one of the factors which has made Tanzania an expensive destination.
“We are very, very expensive compared with other East African Community countries,” he told The Citizen yesterday. The tour official added scrapping of the single entry payment system to the tourist sites would encourage investments in tourist hotels and lodges outside the protected areas and boost income of the existing ones. He cited Karatu, Mto-wa- Mbu and Ikoma townships in the northern circuit where tourist accommodation facilities have created income and employment to hundreds of people.
The multiple entry payment system into the parks has been among the top desires of the local tour operators for years. They have pressed for its introduction to substitute single entry albeit without success. The government and its agencies such as the Tanzania National Parks (Tanapa) and the Ngorongoro Conservation Area Authority (NCAA) maintain that the foreign visitors – in particular – have to pay for each entry.
A member of the Tanzania Association of Tour Operators (Tato), a powerful lobby group based in Arusha, echoed the request, saying scrapping of the system would have a multiplier effect on the industry.
Mr Andrew Malalika, the director of Jackpot Tours and Safaris, said it would encourage visitors to spend nights in the hotels and lodges outside the national parks and subsequent investments there.
“In the long run this will minimise destruction of the fragile ecosystems in the parks”, he told this newspaper when reached for comment.
According to him, tourists are currently charged between $50 and 70 for each entry depending on the status of a national park. The charges are higher for those in the northern circuit.