TUESAY September 27, 2022
By Adam Ihucha
Tranquility News Correspondent, Tanzania
Transferring dollars from international tourists to poor people living around tourist destinations has been a major challenge throughout East Africa and the world.
Lots of dollars, for instance, are generated from Tanzania`s world-famous northern tourist circuit, but very little trickles down to the poor communities surrounding the godsend.
While the northern safari circuit covering 300 square kilometres attracts 700,000 tourists with combined revenues of $950 million, barely 18 per cent, equivalent to $171 million reach the communities through multiplier effects.
But this is bound to change now, as public-private partnerships (PPPs), which is often seen as an apt form of financing big infrastructure projects, have also proved to be the best model for conveying tourism dollars to the ordinary people.
A case in Bashay remote village in Karatu District, Arusha Region, where the community and a responsible tour outfit partnered to build key social infrastructure such as classrooms, water supply and tree planting, among others, is a proof that tourism can pay dividends to rural communities in northern Tanzania.
Mount Kilimanjaro Safari Club (MKSC), with its base in the northern safari capital of Arusha, has invested nearly $217,391 (about TSh500 million) in various social projects at the Bashay Village where it operates a luxurious lodge.
This comes as a surprise, as corporate philanthropy declines, thanks to the ripple effects of Covid-19 pandemic that had brought the tourism industry into its knee.
Handing over six classrooms built and 300 desks at Bashay Primary School, worth about $152,174 (TSh350 million) combined, the MKSC Director, Mr George Ole Meing’arrai, says his company’s policy is to create social impact wherever it operates.
“MKSC is a responsible tour company with a clear business policy of sharing profits with the community where we operate in order to create social impact,” Mr Meing’arrai explains.
The tour outfit also pumped $64,348 (about TSh148 million) to build a laboratory at Banjika vicinity, supplied clean and safe water at Bashay Village, established a vegetable garden and planted 3,000 trees seedlings in its latest initiative to restore green belt to mitigate the effect of climate change.
From the beginning, the MKSC Board Chairman, Mr Eric Pasanisi, and the Managing Director, Mr Denis Lebouteux, worked to build a responsible business that leaves a positive footprint on Tanzania.
They have become leaders in sustainability, integrating social and environmental best practices into every aspect of the business, giving back to the people at places hosting them.
Receiving the projects, Karatu District Council Acting Executive Director, Ms Yohana Ngowi, thanks the MKSC management for its meticulous efforts to uplift the poor community from abject poverty to a prosperous level.
“Truth be told, MKSC has been supportive to our community since it started operating in our area. Other tour companies have something to emulate from this company when it comes to giving back to the community,” explains Ms Ngowi amid applause from the floor.
On his part, the Bashay Village Chairman, Mr Raphael Tatok, says his people are counting blessing for hosting the MKSC, as its corporate social investment was not only visible to everybody in the vicinity, but also impactful.
The Bashay Primary School Head Teacher, Mr Elipheus Malley, says his school for the last three consecutive years has recorded outstanding academic performance in Standard Seven national examinations, thanks to conducive learning infrastructures MKSC created, among others.
“Since 2019 up to 2021, my school saw all Standard Seven finalists pass their final national examinations and proceed with their ordinary level education. This has been possible through generous support from MKSC in terms of putting best learning infrastructure,” Mr Malley explains.
The MKSC Board Chairman, Mr Eric Pasanisi, says he believes the classrooms and desks will be taken care of to serve the current and future Bashay generation for so many years to come.
The MKSC Managing Director, Mr Denis Lebouteux, commended the teachers at the primary school for doing a great job in nurturing the pupils to become responsible citizens.
“What we’ve done is small, compared to what you teachers have been doing. Here you are creating engineers, teachers and military generals and other critical cadres to save better the country,” Mr Lebouteux explained.
Mount Kilimanjaro Safari Club is one of the country’s successful tour companies in terms of promoting Tanzania as the top destination in Europe, creating employment to local population, supporting conservation drive and giving back to the community.
MKSC is the pioneer carbon-neutral tour company in East Africa after having rolled out the first 100 percent electric safari vehicle (e-cars) in Serengeti National Park few years back, in its latest efforts to reduce pollution in the parksΩ