Karatu District in Arusha Region could soon be home to a 300-room luxury hotel if an agreement is reached between the government and a Chinese investor.
If the envisaged project is executed, the giant five-star hotel will be by far the largest in Tanzania, and one of the biggest in eastern, central and southern Africa.
Officials of the Chinese firm that plans to build the hotel recently visited the site where the establishment is to be located together with two golf courses.
“This will be the largest hotel in Tanzania in terms of the number of rooms,” Natural Resources and Tourism permanent secretary Adolf Mkenda said.
He declined to reveal the identity of the potential investor and cost of the project, but said negotiations were at an advanced stage, making it possible for the firm to acquire land for the purpose.
Prof Mkenda said the Chinese team had visited a potential site in Karatu District as part of the land acquisition procedure, adding that construction could start in the next few months.
“They (the Chinese) are ready to embark on the project as early as October this year should everything go according to plan,” he told The Citizen at the weekend.
Prof Mkenda added that the relevant authorities, including the Natural Resources ministry, Tanzania Investment Centre (TIC) and environmental conservation agencies, were also discussing the project.
He said project would boost Karatu’s economic prospects given that the town is strategically located on the routes to both the Ngorongoro Conservation Area and Serengeti National Park.
He added the desire shown by the Chinese to invest in the hospitality industry was due to the ongoing drive by the government to woo tourists from the world’s second largest economy.
China is also the leading source of foreign direct investment (FDI) to Tanzania. There were a total of 723 investment projects from China in Tanzania valued at $5.9 billion as of 2017, according to TIC data.
China is followed by the United Kingdom, which had invested in 936 projects worth $5.54 billion. The US comes third with projects worth $ 4.7 billion. Mauritius and India completed the top five list with investments worth $4.308 billion and $2.2 billion, respectively.
China is also rapidly becoming one of the leading sources of tourists visiting Tanzania.
The Tanzania Tourist Board (TTB) last year struck a deal with a Chinese travel agency to bring 10,000 tourists to Tanzania.
By Zephania Ubwani