AS Tanzania goes unwavering in its quest to attain massive economic development, it is on a pole position to scoop more tourists.
After defeating Covid-19 in style last year and retain trust by tourists and governments in almost all parts of the world, Tanzania is again on high, receiving tourists as one of the most preferred destinations in the world.
Among destinations that are vastly visited is Ngorongoro Conservation Area (NCA) in northern Tanzania that is home to the vast, volcanic Ngorongoro Crater and the Big Five game (elephant, lion, leopard, buffalo and rhino).
Huge herds of wildebeests and zebras traverse its plains during their annual migration. Livestock belonging to the semi-nomadic Maasai tribe graze alongside wild animals.
Hominin fossils found in the Olduvai Gorge date back millions of years and provide yet another unique picture of the world’s largest unbroken caldera.
While in past years efforts were put for tourists to go and see wildlife in the crater, now NCA Authority (NCAA) is diversifying its potential.
Deputy Senior Conservation Commissioner, Mr Audax Bahweitima, unveiled to the ‘Daily News’ that the Authority is looking to upgrade attractions that have been entrusted to it before they become fully fledged in offering tourism services and increasing income.
They include Olduvai Gorge – home to remains of earliest human beings and animals that are now on extinction and are nowhere in the world.
Transformation of this attraction and museum will see more tourists to Ngorongoro and the country generally.
He noted that the Ministry of Natural Resources and Tourism has attached different attraction entities to NCAA and other conservation bodies such as Tanzania National Park (TANAPA), Tanzania Wildlife Authority (TAWA) and others, adding that there is huge optimism of increased tourists and consequently revenue to the government.
Attractions that are set to be highly promoted include shifting sand that emanated from Oldonyo Lengai (Mount of God) volcano to Sale and Serengeti plains.
It has a magnetic nature and moves for about 17 metres annually.
NCA is in northern Tanzania – home to the vast, volcanic Ngorongoro Crater and The Big Five Game (elephant, lion, leopard, buffalo, and rhino). Huge herds of wildebeests and zebras traverse its plains during their annual migration.
Livestock belonging to the semi-nomadic Maasai tribe graze alongside wild animals. Hominin fossils found in the Olduvai Gorge dates back millions of years.
Recent discoveries at Ngorongoro include new sets of fresh legendary footprints believed to belong to the earliest human being, who could have walked in NCA nearly four million years ago were discovered in 2015.
The new footprints and imprints were located 60 meters from the site where similar humanoid footprints were found in 1976 at the Laetoli archaeological site.
The new discovery continues to place Tanzania at the forefront of human origin research. So far Tanzania is the only country in the world boasting the oldest marks of human beings in the form of hominid footprints.
Olduvai Gorge is one of the most important archaeological sites on earth. The geological strata exposed in the gorge reveal a remarkable record of animal and human evolution from about two million until 15,000 years ago.
Olduvai Gorge Archaeology Officer, Mr Godfrey Ollemoita says that among the significant finds from Olduvai is the range of stone tool types, the thousands of animal fossils – both extinct and extant species – and the fossil bones of hominids (pre-Homo Sapiens) and early Homo sapiens.
Mary and Louis Leakey unearthed a jawbone in 1959, which has pushed back the beginning of human evolution well past the 1.5 Million year mark.
The different kinds of hominids found here show a gradual increase in brain size and in the complexity of their stone tools. Mr Ollemoita says that the earliest signs of humans in the NCA were at Laetoli (The Cradle of Mankind).
“This is the place where three separate tracks of small-brained upright-walking early hominids, Lucy or Australopithecus afarensis, have been miraculously preserved in muddy ash deposited by volcanic eruptions and hardened by the sun some 3.6 million years ago,” he says confidently.
Made by feet little different from of the modern person, they proved conclusively that these creatures stood and walked upright (bipedally) with a human-like stride a million years before the invention of stone tools and the initial growth in hominin brain size.
It is undoubtedly one of the most astounding and important scientific discoveries of our time.
Other prehistoric sites that can be visited are the Middle and Later Stone Age rock shelter at Nasera rock and the Iron Age ruins of Engaruka. The ruins are at least 500 years old.
All these revelations that will attract even more tourists emerge as the NCAA invites local and foreign investors to construct and run hotels within the area. NCAA Head of Planning and Investment, Senior Assistant Commissioner Needpeace Wambuya, noted that with such facilities and hospitality services visitors are poised to increase significantly and stay longer.
A General Management Plan (GMP) is being put before prospective investors and return to such investment is assured.
NCAA Conservation Commissioner (CC), Dr Freddy Manongi says the Authority is awaiting a go-ahead nod to mitigate challenges arising from an increase in human and livestock population.
Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Natural Resources and Tourism, Dr Alloyce Nzuki said that the government will issue a directive soon after a team of experts made a thorough research on how best to improve Ngorongoro as a destination to many.
President John Magufuli declared victory over Covid-19 pandemic last year, saying Tanzania was safe and ready to receive tourists from across the globe.
Tourism sector contributes more than 17 per cent to the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and about 25 per cent of foreign exchange revenue.
While from 2012 to 2015 Tanzania had registered about 2,002million US$ in revenue from tourism as proceeds from 1,102,619 tourists and about 500,000 direct employments and a million indirect employments were created, in 2019 the revenue surged to more than 2.6bnUS$.
The Ministry of Natural Resources and Tourism’s statement issued in June, last year had it that the country is well positioned to tap into the growing potential of the high-yield and ever-expanding tourism industry. In 2019 it received 1,527,230 tourists.
The sharp rise in tourists and consequent revenue is attributed to the strategic position of the country, economic stability and the best of multicultural hospitality that make the country top-of-mind destination for business activities.
Tanzania Tourist Board Chairman Judge (rtd) Thomas Mihayo is upbeat about the tourism sector’s general recovery in post Corona stint, saying the government employed tight means to make the industry profitable and more sustainable.