A GIANT eland browses on shrubs and bushes as other herds of the massive, tan-coloured largest antelopes wander widely in search of food on the grassland of Burigi-Chato National Park, the third largest wildlife sanctuary in Tanzania.
Previously a game reserve, the newly inaugurated national park is home to a wide collection of wildlife, including elephants, buffaloes, antelopes, lions, leopards, zebras, giraffes, chimpanzees and gorillas.
Situated close to Lake Victoria, and a few kilometres away from Rwanda and Burundi, the national park involves the other ecosystems of Rwanda Akagera National Park and Uganda’s Kikati game reserve.
It also extends to the eastern side towards the Kimisi, Burigi -Biharamulo, Ibanda and Rumanyika National Park Tanzania and also to the Akagera National park in the west. It boasts some rare species of birds such as fish eagles, papyrus ganolek, and bizarre shoebill stork, which are also found in the Burigi-Biharamulo, Kimisi, Ibanda and Rumanyika National Park.
But being the newly established National Park, there is a lot of potential in terms of tourism value chain. Opportunities for hotels and accommodation, souvenir shops and transport and transportation are open for taking.
It is against this backdrop, the Kagera Regional Commissioner, Brig Gen Marco Gaguti, led a 30-member business delegation to a tour of the park last month.
The trip had twin-objectives of promoting investment opportunities at the park and boosting domestic tourism to encourage Tanzanians enjoy and appreciate the attractions that make their country a leading tourist destination.
He called on the business community to take advantage of immense investment opportunities in the park which with more than 2,200 square kilometer, it ranks the third after Ruaha and Serengeti national parks, number one and two respectively in terms of the size.
He said that lack of domestic tourism awareness is a gap and opportunity for players in the private sector to take advantage and contribute to national economic building efforts.
“This is a golden opportunity not to be missed, Brig Gen Gaguti told his contingent of business people who included also boda-boda youth, food vendors and petty-traders from Bukoba Municipal Council.
Tourism activities provide an opportunity for local people to participate in direct employment and indirect, by providing goods and services to tourism businesses through the supply chain, he said noting that generation of earnings amongst those local people directly involved with the industry in turn stimulates indirect spending in the local economy.
Domestic tourism offers immense opportunities for the private sector to grab by organising tours targeting different groups to visit the park, especially during weekends and vacations," he said.
He said there are opportunities for designing affordable and attractive packages for locals in groups which suit most of corporate and individual clients - especially those attending workshops, conferences and training workshops throughout the country.
Brig Gen Gaguti domestic and foreign investors to exploit the abundant investment opportunities available in Burigi-Chato, Rumanyika Karagwe and Ibanda Kyerwa national parks by constructing five star hotels and establishing tour companies.
Tourism is one of the major sources of foreign exchange earnings in Tanzania contributing to over 17 per cent of the total gross domestic product and 25 per cent of total foreign exchange in 2019, according to statistics of the Ministry of Natural Resources and Tourism.
It employs over 5.5 million people per year, which is about 10 per cent of the population. Revenue from the sector reached 2.6 billion US dollars in 2019 up from 2.4 billion US dollars, the Minister for Natural Resources and Tourism, Dr Hamis Kigangwala said in Parliament in this year.