Deputy Minister from the Ministry of Tourism and Natural Resources Japhet Hasunga said this over the weekend when speaking to government officials in Muheza District, Tanga Region.
The meeting was also attended by Muheza District Commissioner, Mwanasha Tumbo, Muheza legislator, Adadi Rajabu and the district’s chairman, Bakari Muhando.
The Deputy Minister cited Japan where almost 75 million tourists are visiting the country each year, calling upon district and regional leaders to put much efforts in improving the country’s tourism sector.
Hasunga said that Tanzania has been endowed with a number of tourist attractions but ye the number of visitors is still small. He said Japan has a few tourists attraction but millions of people across the globe are visiting the country.
“We have not done enough in promoting our tourism sector…we now have to encourage our people to visit nearby tourist attractions so as to build visiting culture among them,” said Hasunga insisting the move will boost government revenues.
According to him, local leaders are responsible for promoting environment tourism through conservation and protection of forests and natural resources.
The Deputy Minister mentioned Olduvai Gorge which is a rich archaeological where evidence of the first human’ skull was discovered in the past 3 million years, but it has not been promoted enough. He said such sites are rare in Africa whereby similar ones can be found in Chad and Kenya.
He said the forest sector’s contribution to the national economy is still low at 3 per cent; insisting if well managed and promoted it can generate good income for the district.
He directed each of the district in Tanga Region to plant 1.5 million trees as part of efforts to preserve the environment as trees play a crucial role in supporting life across the globe, producing oxygen and absorbing climate change-causing carbon dioxide.
He warned that log harvesting should be in accordance with the set regulations, and that buyers should only be allowed to harvest mature trees.
Finance and Planning Minister, Dr Philip Mpango said last year that tourism sector has recorded good performance in the period of 10 months from January to October, 2016 with the arrival of a total 1,020,816 tourists in the country.
He said the sector has recorded an increase of 96,374 tourists, which is 10.42 percent increase compared to the same period in 2015 when a total of 924,442 tourists visited the country from January to October.
In 2014 the Tanzania Tourist Board (TTB) said the number of tourists visiting the country was expected to double to 2 million by 2017.