By Prince-josh Adams
A leading Arusha based tourism agency, the Tanzania Association of Tour Operators (TATO) is pushing the government to declare poaching a national disaster.
The multi-billion-dollar tourism firms Chairman Willy Chambullo said mid this week in the region during the firms general meeting that the continued increase of illegal elephants and rhino killings results from the increased high ivory demand at the global market particularly, Asian countries.
Chambullo said his firm is pushing the state to declare poaching incidents a 'national disaster' in order to help halt such illegal practice on the country’s natural tourism attractions.
He said TATO wants to forge partnership with the government to help fight against illegal poaching.
“Poaching is the greatest challenge in our time as it threatens tourism industry in the country which is likely to halt the country’s economic growth”
The global ivory-poaching crisis has seen Tanzania’s elephant numbers decline from an estimated 109,000 in 2009 to approximately between 35,000 and 60,000 by the end of last year.
“Tourism operators in the country are likely to close down their businesses if elephants and rhinos are all wiped out. This nature has prompted us to form a special committee to oversee an awareness and anti-poaching campaign amongst our members and the public at large” he said.
TATO awareness and anti-poaching campaign that was launched last year has organized several awareness and anti-poaching forums amongst youths and elderly throughout the country.
The Chairman also disclosed that TATO was working on the modalities to form a marketing agency in partnership with the government based in foreign countries to oversee the country’s tour operations in all alien countries.
Despite poaching challenges, the country tourism sector is said to earn the nation $ 1.7 billion last year alone from more than one million tourists. This direct earnings from tourism in the long value chain has continued to boost the country’s economic growth.
Tanzania’s tourism sector is also among the fastest growing sectors with great economic potential employing the majority of youths and acting as a stimulus to other sectors like agriculture.
Other tourist countries in Africa with a higher record of tourists include Kenya, Zimbabwe, Botswana, Namibia, Zambia and South Africa.