MONDAY January 2, 2023
By Adam Ihucha
The Tranquility News Correspondent, Tanzania
Tanzania National Parks (TANAPA) has unveiled an ambitious plan that will see a state-of-the art golf course built, as it seeks to hook a slice of sports tourism with its market value expected to hit $1,803.70 billion by 2030.
The Conservation Commissioner for TANAPA, Mr William Mwakilema, says the state-owned conservation agency will invest multi-million dollars in developing a world-class golf course, as it seeks to unlock the potential for leisure travel.
Mr Mwakilema, says a first quality golf course is being constructed near Serengeti — the world’s renowned and Africa’s best national park.
The 18-hole golf course currently under construction within 400 acres at Fort Ikoma, a buffer zone between Serengeti District and the Serengeti National Park, will be among the world’s few golf courses within or near national parks.
Billed to be one of the world’s exclusive and longest golf course with an array of challenging features, the golf course promises the ultimate African golfing experience, where golfers share fairways with giraffe, zebra, impala and monkeys, while viewing bigger game behind the park.
During a round of 18, golfers are likely to encounter aquatic life at various watering holes, while majestic, yet inquisitive giraffe, zebra, cheetah nonchalantly observe their swing from their unique vantage points.
“For those who crave for a world-class golf course and the ultimate leisure in breathtaking landscapes and awe-inspiring wildlife, then the Serengeti National Park’s golf course could be soon their destination,” Mr Mwakilema says during the ceremony of laying a foundation stone for the proposed facility.
“At the Serengeti National Park’s golf course, they will enjoy fresh air, birds singing, awe-inspiring wildlife migration, breathtaking landscapes, peace and tranquility that we all crave for,” the TANAPA Chief explains.
The Serengeti National Park’s golf course project bankrolled by the TANAPA Investment Limited, a commercial wing of the conservation agency, at the tune of $3.2 million, or Sh7.5 billion, is expected to be completed in June 2023 should the cash flow remain constant.
The TANAPA Investment Limited, a newly established subsidiary company with topnotch professionals in different fields, will be undertaking all projects involving the country’s national parks and beyond as part of the conservation agency’s strategy for diversifying its revenue sources.
Environmental Impact Consideration, feasibility study and business plan have concluded that the Serengeti National Park’s golf course ticks all the boxes as a viable project.
Being built at the Fort Ikoma situated on top of the most easterly of a series of low hills about one mile north of the Grumeti River, the golf course will offer a stunning view of the wildlife grazing and elite sporting under one roof.
Mr Mwakilema says the golf course will attract around 3,000 global golfers annually, who, in turn, will leave behind an average of $857,632.93, equivalent to Sh2 billion and leapfrog other economic sectors with substantial multiplier effects to a critical mass of poor people around.
Laying the foundation stone, the TANAPA Board of Trustees Chairman, retired General George Waitara, says the proposed ultra-modern Serengeti National Park’s golf course is part of the nation’s comprehensive strategy for diversifying its mainstream tourism products as it seeks to boost tourist numbers, extend length of stay and raise revenue.
General Waitara believes the new tourism product will compliment efforts by the government under President Dr Samia Suluhu Hassan in stimulating tourism growth to achieve five million tourists and $6.6 billion earning in 2025.
Analysts say the new tourism product will be a major boost to the tourism industry, as it will capture the growing market segment of tourists who look beyond wildlife, mountain and beach.
The Chairman of Tanzania Golf Union, Mr Gilman Kasiga, welcomes the Serengeti National Park’s golf course project, appreciating TANAPA Investment Limited, for the great innovation, saying the recreational facility will go a long way in spurring sports tourism in the country.
The United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) says tourism and sports are interrelated and complement each other. Sports – as a professional, amateur or leisure activity – involves a considerable amount of traveling to play and compete in different destinations and countries.
Sport events of various kinds and sizes attract tourists as participants or spectators, prompting destinations to try to add flavours to them to distinguish themselves and provide authentic local experiences.
As per the Allied Market Research report, titled Sports Tourism Market by Product, the global sports tourism industry was pegged at $323.42 billion in 2020, and is expected to reach $1,803.70 billion by 2030, growing at an annual growth rate of 16.1 per cent between 2021 and 2030.
Serengeti National Park is undoubtedly the best-known wildlife sanctuary in the world, unequalled for its natural beauty and scientific value, it has the greatest concentration of plains game in Africa.
The planet’s remaining largest wildlife migration with an annual loop of two million wildebeest across the Serengeti and the Kenya’s Maasai Mara Reserve is a key tourist allure, generating multi-million dollars annually.
Nearly 700,000 tourists who visit the legendary Tanzania northern tourist circuit annually explore the Serengeti and have been fascinated by its millions of wildebeest each, driven by the same ancient rhythm, fulfilling their instinctive role in the inescapable cycle of life.
From the sprawling Serengeti plains to the champagne-coloured hills of Masai Mara, over 1.4 million wildebeests, 200,000 zebra and gazelle, relentlessly tracked by Africa’s great predators, migrate in a clockwise route over 1,800 miles each year in search for rain-ripened grass.
There is no real beginning or end to the wildebeest’s journey. Its life is an endless pilgrimage, a constant search for food and water. The only beginning is at the moment of birth.Ω