The tourism industry has remind dormant in Tarime district for decades despite that it is one of the areas located a few kilometers to the world famous Serengeti National Park, one of the world’s top heritage sites.
Majority of foreign tourists entering the country via Sirari border have been travelling via Musoma and Mwanza towns before crossing to Serengeti National Park via Nabi gate, hence spending many hours on the road citing lack of tourist lodges in Tarime.
Tarime has a number of tourist attractions that are yet to be developed and marketed in a bid to promote tourism sector in the area. Lack of quality accommodation is also seen as one of the major stumbling blocks hampering the development of hospitality industry in Tarime district.
Many business people in Tarime have been building guest houses that do not offer full board to visitors (accommodation, breakfast, drinks, and meals). The guest houses are now scattered in almost every corner in one of the fast growing town in the lake region. The town is estimated to have close to 200 guest houses.
Construction of massive guest houses is triggered by lucrative market which is associated by sexual business in Tarime town.
“Local business people here are building many guest houses because they generate money every hour. Lovers are meeting in the guest houses and in most cases during day time”, a senior government local leaders with Tarime District Council said.
Goldland is the only classic hotel that accommodates visitors preferring to use hotels instead of guest houses in the area. It is also the main hotel that attracts foreign visitors visiting the area. “Our hotel is always full like the whole of last month our bed occupancy was 100 per cent.
We often assist some of our guests to get accommodation in the nearby guest houses that can at least offer standard services but not full board”, the Goldland Hotel Manager Mr Dickson Olemuga said in an exclusive interview with news paper recently. The hotel, he said has no low or high seasons as it is case for other tourist hotels because it is the choice of many visitors visiting Tarime.
“This in advantage for us but competition is always good in any business. People here are still not aware that Tarime is potential for tourist hotels”, Mr Olemuga pointed out. “We receive visitors from inside and outside the country. They include tourists, government officials, religious leaders and some business people from the neighbouring regions like Mwanza”, he said.
The hotel bed occupancy stands at an average of 90- 100 percent according to him. Goldland hotel has a capacity of accommodating 33 visitors ago but it plans to increase more rooms to meet the demand of increasing tourists visiting Serengeti via Tarime, according to Mr Olemuga.
The hotel has been striving to provide quality hospitality services to its visitors since 2006 when it was officially inaugurated by Mr Isidori Shirima who was made the Mara Regional Commissioner (RC) as soon as the fourth phase government which is led by President Jakaya Kikwete was voted to power in 2005.
Last year the hotel introduced free service in which visitors are picked by luxurious vehicles from Sirari border and make a stop to in Tarime before proceeding to western Serengeti via Tarime- Mugumu road. This is the shortest route for foreign tourists entering the country to visit Serengeti via Sirari border.
Tarime Township Authority Executive Officer Mr Hashimu Barongo has admitted that the town has been facing a critical shortage of tourist hotels for decades. “There are only three hotels registered as hotels but when you came to the reality it is at least Goldland that provide services offered by tourist hotels”, said Mr Barongo.
Authorities in Tarime he said have allocated investment areas which are also suitable for setting up tourist hotels in the area.
“If we get any serious investor to build a hotel we will give him or a land very fast. It could be better if we could have at least five tourist hotels in Tarime’, Mr Barongo said.
Stakeholders within tourism industry are also reminding Tarime District Council to rehabilitate Magena airstrip that is located in the outskirts of Tarime own. The airstrip is at this time used by small flights transporting to and from Serengeti via Tarime. “Magena airstrip not in a good condition and it needs to be repaired and the same should be done to other infrastructure like roads”, Mr Olemuga who has served within the hospitality industry for several years now said.
Failure by the Tourism and Natural Resources Ministry to conduct classification of hotels exercise is also seen as an impediment on the development of hospitality industry in the country. Majority of Tanzanian are still unable to distinguish a hotel from a guest house, would you believe.