TANZANIA (eTN) – Located in the southern highlands of Tanzania, Ruaha National Park, the largest wildlife Eden in East Africa, is almost lacking adequate hotel and accommodation facilities to cater to its tourist inflows.
Counted as the wildest safari park and largest protected wildlife park in East Africa, Ruaha covers an area of 20,226 kilometers full of African wildlife, but with less than ten medium-sized lodges to cater to tourists visiting this park.
Big hotel chains are contemplating whether or not to enter this attractive park in the southern highlands of Tanzania. Serena Hotels is looking at possibly to establish a luxury safari lodge in Ruaha, while Tanzania’s local hotel investor, Peacock Hotels is also eyeing this park. On other side of the coin, hotel and accommodation facility investors have blamed Tanzania government officials for red tape, bureaucracy, and probably corruption when a hotel investor applies for a business permit.
Lodges and tented camps currently operating in the park offer accommodation at prices ranging from US$223 to US$500 per person on a sharing basis.
Unlike the northern Tanzania tourist circuit where scheduled flights operate on daily basis, the rich tourist areas in Tanzania’s southern highlands lack air connection, debilitating tourism development in the circuit.
The leader of the opposition camp in Tanzanian parliament, Peter Msigwa, blamed the government in power for its failure to encourage hotel investment in Ruaha, citing some companies which failed to secure permits to establish accommodation facilities in this park.
The politician and a policymaker wanted to see more investors from across the world venture in this park and wanted investment authorities to speed up all processes that would encourage more hotel investors in this part of Africa.
But, the Hotels Association of Tanzania sees no green light in the hospitality business due to higher costs of electricity and poor infrastructure in most parts of the southern highlands of Tanzania, despite rich attractions and opportunities available in those areas.
The hotel investors have asked the Tanzanian government to re-consider a relief on taxation and multiple tariffs charged, at least to encourage more business.
Unreliable power supply (electricity) had raised the cost of doing business and was likely to affect long-term plans for the sector’s growth, they complained.
Ruaha, which boasts of more than 10,000 African elephants, the largest population of any East African national park, protects a vast tract of the rugged semi-arid bush country that characterizes central Tanzania.
Also, the park is the home to over 450 bird species. Ruaha is believed to have a higher concentration of elephants than any national park in East Africa. It is also a place where magnificent mammals like Kudu (both Greater and Lesser), Sable, and Roan antelopes can easily be spotted in Miombo woodland.
The male Kudu have beautiful spiraled horns, while male Sable antelope have impressive curved horns. The park is also a habitat for endangered wild dogs. Other animals in the park include lions, leopards, cheetah, giraffes, zebras, elands, impala, bat eared foxes, and jackals.
As hotel investors are set to meet in East Africa this week, there are good hopes to see more hotel investors injecting their capital in Africa.
According to the study carried out by Lagos-based W Hospitality Group, major hotel chains are increasing their presence across the African continent. The research report suggests that 208 new hotels with over 38,000 rooms are planned to join the burgeoning African market over the next 5 years.
The report revealed that 55 percent of the planned hotels are already under construction, with the remaining accommodation in the planning and design phase.
The news comes in the wake of the Africa Hotel Investment Forum (AHIF) to be held in Nairobi on September 25-26, 2012.
Despite hoteliers actively investing in Africa, success will still be a challenge as the continent poses roadblocks such as political risk, corruption, poor infrastructure and lack of skills in the labor force, the report says.