the international tourism community that ongoing plans to introduce cable cars on Mount Kilimanjaro will not in any way affect environmental conservation in surrounding areas. Minister for Natural Resources and Tourism, Dr Hamisi Kigwangalla, said yesterday that the introduction of the service was crucial especially at this time when the government was adopting various strategies to increase the number of tourists.
Dr Kigwangalla noted that currently experts were conducting a feasibility study to establish possible routes and see whether the project would work out. He added that there were two companies, which had shown interest, one from China and the other from a Western country.
Earlier, the United Nations Education, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (Unesco) had expressed concerns for environmental impacts and had requested explanation from the Ministry of Natural Resources and Tourism on natural methods of preserving the area.
Although the government through Deputy Minister for Natural Resources and Tourism Costantine Kanyasu had expressed satisfaction that the plan to roll out the cable car service on Mount Kilimanjaro planned to improve access and boost tourism, but some key stakeholders cautioned that the move would have adverse effects on the environment.
Last month, while in Arusha Region, the deputy minister said the cable car facility was part of the government'slatest strategies to attract tourists aged above 50 to climb Africa's highest mountain and allow more ageing tourists to experience a variety of nature and wildlife of the mountain.
Dr Kigwangalla said: “The initial work for cable cars has just taken off, where the ministry has hired experts, who are working on the ground to conduct environmental and social impact assessment (ESIA) and climbing the magnificent mountain on foot is a lifeline experience that will not be compromised in any way by the cable cars.”
He revealed that cable cars were available worldwide and the aim of introducing such a system was to increase revenue and the number of tourists. The minister said cable cars were only among the several additional tourism products embedded in Mount Kilimanjaro General Management Plan to boost revenue for physically-challenged persons and aged tourists, who wanted to experience the thrill of climbing it.
“This won't be the first time in the world. Cable cars are elsewhere. Most European countries have already done it and the government here was looking forward to business plans as well as potential investors and profit making as far as the tourism sector is concerned,” he said.
Kilimanjaro is one of the world's most accessible high summits and a beacon for visitors from around the world. Most climbers reach the crater rim with walking sticks and proper clothing and determination whereby those, who reach Uhuru Peak, the actual summit, will have earned their climbing certificates.
About 50,000 tourists climb Mount Kilimanjaro annually whereby the Ministry of Natural Resources and Tourism is confident that cable cars could increase the number of tourists by 50 per cent if it provides cable cars for those, who are unable to climb it.