The construction of a new modern golf course at Fort Ikoma in Serengeti District, Mara Region has been approved by the Tanzania National Parks Authority (Tanapa).
According to Eturbo News, the Conservation Commissioner for the Tanzania National Parks (TANAPA), Mr. William Mwakilema, the 18-hole golf course is being constructed within 400 acres at Fort Ikoma, an area that serves as a buffer zone for 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 courses with an array of challenging features, new golf course promises the ultimate African golfing experience, where golfers share fairways with giraffe, zebra, impala and monkeys, while viewing a bigger game behind the park.
During a round of 18 holes, 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 soon be their destination,” Mr. Mwakilema said during the foundation stone laying ceremony at the proposed facility site.
“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 explained. The Serengeti National Park’s golf course project bankrolled by the TANAPA Investment Ltd, a commercial wing of the conservation agency, to the tune of $3.2 million, or Sh7.5 billion, is expected to be completed in June 2023 should the cash flow remain steady.
The TANAPA Investment Ltd, a newly established subsidiary company with top-notch 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 said the golf course would 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 Chairman, retired General George Marwa Waitara, said the proposed ultra-modern Serengeti National Park’s golf course is part of the nation’s comprehensive strategy for diversify its mainstream tourism products as it seeks to boost tourist numbers, extend length of stay and revenue.
General Waitara believes the new tourism product will complement 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 would be a major boost to the tourism industry, as it will capture the growing market segment of tourists who look beyond wildlife, mountains and beaches. The Chairman of Tanzania Golf Union, Mr. Gilman Kasiga, welcomed the Serengeti National Park’s golf course project, appreciating TANAPA Investment Ltd, for the great innovation, saying the recreational facility would 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 (CAGR) of 16.1 percent 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.