TORRENTIAL RAINS IMPACT ON SAFARIS ACROSS TANZANIA’S NORTHERN CIRCUIT
Reports reaching from Arusha speak of torrential rains cutting a vital road link to the Northern safari circuit near the town of Karatu, where the Kirurumo River flooded, broke its banks and severely damaged a bridge, effectively disrupting road traffic for residents and tourists. The main road was reportedly also impassable as it was littered with debris the raging floods had deposited on the road, such as trees, tree branches and boulders of rock and piles of soil left behind when the floods eventually subsided.
Safari operators were however said to be swift in reacting to the situation, and worked hand in hand with TANAPA to ensure that clients destined for departure from Kilimanjaro International Airport were flown back to Arusha, when the extent of the disruption of road traffic became apparent.
Earlier in the week was TANAPA’s Director General being quoted in the local media when he presented visitor statistics, which though showing a decline in 2012 over 2011 nevertheless recorded a revenue increase through higher spending by tourists while in country.
‘There are varying factors we need to consider when we talk about tourism arrivals. 2012 was a difficult year. Many of Tanzania’s traditional overseas markets suffered economic challenges. The issues surrounding the Serengeti Highway and other controversial projects affecting parks and game reserves have also not helped us of course. But we got a very competent tourism minister since last year who has changed many things for the better already and we hope that 2013 will be a much better year. For this reason we have to coordinate our rescue efforts when flooding strikes like on Wednesday this week. It is a time when competition takes a back seat and we all make sure that disruption to itineraries is kept to a minimum. Two weeks ago the central rail line was also affected again by floods and rail traffic stopped. We expect heavy rains this time of year but at times it gets too much and then we are challenged to react immediately, be it day or night. It is not just for the tourists, our own people also have to travel, they have produce to take to markets, need to have goods delivered to their villages and towns. So when there is a local problem with a flood affecting tourist routes, everybody cooperates to solve these problems’ said a regular source from Arusha while passing the details and location of the traffic disruption. Well done in difficult circumstances with special thanks to TATO for their coordination and to TANAPA for going out of their way to assist the safari operators.