Wednesday, 15 August 2012
Tanzania: U.S. Tycoon to Finance New Serengeti Airport
Serengeti — AN American tycoon, Mr. Paul Tudor Jones, has agreed to spend millions to finance the construction of an international airport in Serengeti district, Mara Region.
"Mr Jones has agreed and he has written to us a letter accepting to finance construction of the airport," Serengeti District Council Chairman, Mr John Ng'oina confirmed to this paper.
Mr Ng'oina had assured a full council meeting here on Friday that the American investor has agreed to finance construction of the much awaited airport that will transform Mugumu town in Serengeti to a tourist hub.
"We are now waiting completion of the master plan and the go ahead from the Ministry of Transport. After the construction, the airport will be handed over to Serengeti District Council", Mr Ng'oina said. He, however, did not disclose how much exactly the project will cost and what the tycoon intends to spend in implementing the same.
Mawala Trust Fund of Arusha has also agreed to assist in supporting preparation of the master plan, according to him. Construction of the airport will enable thousands of foreign tourists visiting Serengeti National Park to fly direct to Mugumu and later use vehicles to enter the park which is blessed with beautiful fauna and flora.
The project will play a significant role to boost revenues for the Serengeti District Council upon its completion, according to Serengeti officials. Mr Ng'oina challenged local investors, including Serengeti based business community, to start investing heavily on hospitality industry by setting up tourist lodges, among other things.
"We need top class hotels that will meet the demand of expected tourists who will be landing in Mugumu and our farmers should also strive to produce high quality products," he added. Many families and a public primary school had been relocated to pave way for the construction of the airport at Kyambahi ward a few kilometres from Mugumu town. Compensation money was also paid by the US investor a few years ago.
Serengeti District Commissioner, Cpt James Yamungu urged Serengeti residents to take advantage of the project and prepare to accommodate more tourists expected to visit the area. "We want Serengeti to be the major transit route of tourists visiting Serengeti National Park. Let us build nice hotels that will meet the demand of visitors", the DC said.
Mr Jones has already set up luxurious lodges that are operated by Singita Grumeti Reserves (SGR) in the area. They include Sasakwa, Farufaru, Sabora Tented Camp and Singita Explore Mobile Camp. Recently the lodges were named the best by Travel- Leisure Magazine of the United States for 2012 from a list of top 100 hotels in the world for the second time in a row.
Travel- Leisure Magazine is one of the world's most trusted magazines in tourism and travel industries. The USA billionaire is rated to be the leading investor on tourism and conservation industry in Western Serengeti. He is said to have fallen in love with the Serengeti eco-system. The government has already expressed its satisfaction with the lodges, citing global awards they have won in 2011 and 212.
"I was outside recently and it was indeed amazing to see Grumeti lodges being featured on popular televisions stations like CNN. This means that the lodges are marketing Tanzania", the Minister for Natural Resources and Tourism, Ambassador Khamis Kagasheki, recently said during a tour of Serengeti district a few days ago