The authority now makes a hefty saving of 20bn/- a year. The tourist sanctuary is world famous, a situation that has seen it usher in 500,000 foreign visitors into its magnificent attractions every year.
In fact, Ngorongoro is Tanzania’s most celebrated tourist spot. It is the most visited wildlife sanctuary. Ngorongoro churns more than 52bn/- a year in receipts from foreign and domestic tourists.
Before the introduction of the use of smart cards the authority used to rack in about 37bn/- at the entrance gates when money was being collected on cash basis.
The smart card arrangement took off in 2011, a smart move that saved nearly 20bn/- a year that used to vanish into thin air because cash control was a bit elusive.
The explanation here is that some drivers and tour guides used to collude with some officers manning the gates in hatching schemes that culminated in swindling the authority, no wonder some drivers and tour guides dislike the current smart card arrangement. We praise the NCAA for initiating a foolproof method of collecting money.
Invariably, honesty must prevail if national economy is to improve. It is irrational to watch as ‘smart money hunters’ pilfer receipts that should have gone into the coffers of government.
The tourist sector has seen a notable increase of arrivals in recent years but there is room for much more. So, NCAA should brace for greater arrival figures. Last year a total of 1,135,884 tourists visited wildlife sanctuaries and other attractions in Tanzania as compared to 1,077,058 arrivals in 2012. So, business is not only picking up but growing fast.
In fact, the government envisages creating a friendlier tourism climate that would see the number of arrivals climbing to 1.6 million visitors annually by next year. Going by statistics, Ngorongoro Crater is the most popular spot that attracts more than 500,000 visitors a year.
The mighty Serengeti appeals to an average total of 350,000 tourists a year and Mount Kilimanjaro receives 55,000 climbers each year. The government, however, should realise that not enough effort is made to advertise Tanzania as a leading tourism destination.
Last year Serengeti National Park was crowned as the best of the Seven New Natural Wonders of Africa. The list also included Mount Kilimanjaro, which has over the years appealed to climbers from home and abroad.
But while we praise the Ministry of Natural Resources and Tourism for its quest to double the number of tourist arrivals by 2015, we tend to forget the stark fact that the nation has too few hotel beds and other facilities. This must be addressed.