A lion couple enjoy cool air in the rain at the Maasai Mara National Reserve, Kenya, Nov. 23, 2013. To pursue food and water, a large number of wild animals made their second migration trip of this year to the Kenyan Maasai Mara National Reserve due to drought in Serengeti National Park of Tanzania. (Xinhua/Meng Chenguang)
DAR ES SALAAM, Feb. 7 (Xinhua) -- A Tanzanian senior official said on Wednesday the government planned to construct 15 airstrips in the southern circuit of the east African country to boost tourism.
Hamisi Kiganwalla, Minister for Natural Resources and Tourism, said the construction of the airstrips will go in tandem with the diversification of tourist attraction centers.
"The southern tourist circuit is overwhelmed with too many attractions. It needs to be improved to attract more tourists from across the world," Kigwangalla told the National assembly in the capital Dodoma.
The minister said the government's focus for now was to develop the southern tourism circuit and look for other tourism products across the country.
He said airstrips to be built at four national parks in the southern tourism circuit will facilitate smooth transport services to local and foreign tourists.
Kigwangalla said the airstrips will be built at the Selous Game Reserve, the Ruaha National Park, the Mikumi National Park and the Udzungwa Mountains National Park.
Kigwangalla, responding to a number of issues raised by the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Lands, Natural Resources and Tourism, said improvement of the southern circuit will also involve construction of a road from Iringa town to the entrance of the Ruaha National Park.
He told the House that tourism was among the number one sectors with huge contributions to the country's foreign currency earnings, adding that in the 2016/2017 financial year tourism contributed 2.1 billion U.S. dollars.
He said the tourism sector contributed 17.6 percent of the country's gross domestic product (GDP) and 12 percent of employment.
Kemilembe Lwota, the vice-chairman of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Lands, Natural Resources and Tourism, faulted the government over poor marketing strategies to advertise the country's tourist attractions within and outside the country.
Lwota said it was high time the government put in place strategies to identify, improve and market tourist attractions to be able to get intended revenues.