ARUSHA, Tanzania, Aug. 3 (Xinhua) -- Tanzania has stepped up efforts to encourage eco-tourism in order to provide an "incentive" for conserving natural forests as well as boosting government revenues.
Ramo Makani, Deputy Minister for Natural Resources and Tourism said the new initiative is meant to diversify Tanzania's tourism from wildlife to natural forests, which are plenty in the east African nation.
"As a nation, we have a number of well-conserved natural forests, which can be used for tourism purposes. Through those forests, we are able to generate significant financial flux that can benefit rural areas and can be reinjected into the management of forests and natural spaces for their long-term conservation, restoration, and valorization," the deputy minister said here on Thursday.
According to Makani, within Tanzania's natural forests there is a wide range of flora and fauna, some of which are not found anywhere in the globe.
"There are tourists who interested on flora and fauna, that's why it is important for Tanzania to open up natural forests for tourism purposes," he said, adding that there are more researchers and students who will be interested to do researchers in those areas.
Tanzanian natural forests, according to Makani, have a wide range of birds, frogs, toads, and butterflies, which are important in luring more tourists.
So far, Tanzania has 12 nature reserves, namely, Amani (8,380ha); Uluguru (24,115ha); Kilombero (134,511ha); Nilo (6,225ha); Rungwe (13,652ha); Magamba (9,283ha); Chome (14,283ha) and Mkingu (23,388ha); Uzungwa Scarp (32,763ha), Rondo Plateau (14,000ha); Minziro (25,000ha) and Mount Hanang (5,871ha).
"These reserves are bigger than 16 national parks, in terms of size, that is why it is important for them to be used as tourists' hotspots," the official said, expressing his hope that if forest tourism is highly promoted, contribution of tourism sector will go up to 25 percent of the country's GDP from the current 17.2 percent.
The deputy minister added that if tourism is well explored it will also help to sustainably conserve forests from illegal logging.