Economic Impact Statement

Effects of a Proposed Commercial Route Through the Serengeti National Park on Tanzania’s Tourist Industry

The Serengeti National Park is not only a priceless World Heritage, it is also a vital part of Tanzania’s future economic development.

Download the Presentation: Economic Impact of Serengeti Highway

KeyPoints

  • The worldwide recession and resulting decline in tourism has led many African nations to develop new and more aggressive marketing strategies. South Africa and its neighbors are benefiting form tremendous World Cup exposure.
  • Tanzania is attempting to climb out of a tourism decline with an increasingly negative image among the media and traveling public due to publicity about a highway across the Serengeti.
  • A Serengeti highway will damage the tourist industry in three stages: threat of the highway, construction, and aftermath. The first two do not depend on environmental impacts but only world opinion. The third stage will be ongoing and therefore the most damaging.
  • The Full Cost of the highway = (construction costs )+ (future infrastructure for management of wildlife + traffic + human settlement) + (loss of tourism revenue + jobs in years to come).
  • The true cost to the economy of Tanzania would be hundreds of millions of dollars and tens of thousands of jobs, increasing over time.
  • There would also be intangible cultural costs due to the loss of a UNESCO World Heritage Site, damage to both the national heritage and image of the country.
  • A petition from the international travel industry, with more than 5,900 signers around the world warned,

The position of Tanzania in the world travel marketplace will drop, along with the future of your tourism industry. Billions of shillings in foreign exchange needed for development will be jeopardized as travelers look elsewhere. (See Appendix)

Tanzania’s Tourism Challenge

Global tourism is recovering from one of the worst economic crises since the Great Depression. 2009 was a particularly bad year, but fortunately, the early months of 2010 suggest that recovery is underway and stronger than expected. International tourist arrivals grew by 7% in the first four months of 2010, with Africa increasing at that same average. (Source: UNWTO World Tourism Barometer.)

The decline in tourism has led many African nations to develop new and more aggressive marketing strategies. One country, though, has received an extraordinary amount of exposure from another source – South Africa, host of the 2010 FIFA World Cup. The value of this event in terms of boosting interest in travel to South Africa and the surrounding region cannot be overestimated.

A gain in one area of Africa is likely to be accompanied by a decline in another. Historically, Kenya knows this lesson well. In a few decades, it went from the premier sub-Saharan African destination to having only a fraction of Africa’s international visitors. Other regions, including Tanzania, took away market share. There were various causes, but among them was poor planning and management in the face of mounting competition.

It is in this setting that Tanzania begins the second decade of its 21st Century tourism…amid strong competition for a travel market during a fragile rebound from recession.

Unfortunately, Tanzania is attempting to climb out of recession with an increasingly negative image among the media and traveling public. Controversy over the construction of a commercial highway through its primary tourism asset, the Serengeti National Park, has caused an outcry among the press, the international travel industry, and a growing segment of travelers.

Stages of Decline

The specter of the  Serengeti highway will cause damage to the tourist industry in three stages. The first two do not depend on environmental impacts but only public perception and world opinion.

Stage I.  The threat of a highway:

This stage is already in progress, beginning with an announcement by the government that the project had been approved. World reaction was swift, with internet blogs and social media instantly taking up the cause. Comments on social media sites include disbelief, shock, anger, and defiance. A petition against the highway by international tourism companies and associations quickly brought thousands of signers.

There is a long lead time for planning safaris. And as one tour company has already said.

“With over 22 years of designing safaris in East Africa behind us, we, at Safari Professionals, have advised the Tanzanian government that we are now re-evaluating our current practice of recommending Tanzania to our prospective safari travelers. Since most of our safaris are designed 1 to 2 years in advance, we have to… assume that the current plans will go forward and are likely to have a negative impact on the wildlife and our travelers’ experience.”

Stage II. Construction of the highway:

If and when the highway construction begins, world reaction will certainly intensify, with an increase in articles, photographs, and films confirming that the threat has become a reality. Comments on social media sites indicate that the reaction will become increasingly hostile. As the Serengeti lose its UNESCO World Heritage Status, Tanzania will cease to be seen as a protector of its natural heritage in the eyes of many throughout the world.

Although the authors of this do not agree, there will certainly be a call by many around the world for a general boycott of tourism to Tanzania. In an online survey of travel companies, the questions was asked:

“Some travelers have said they will not visit Tanzania if the highway is constructed. Do you think there will be a more widespread call for such a boycott if the highway is built?”

72% said this would be likely!

Stage III. Damage to the Serengeti:

The highway will have an ongoing and increasing negative impact on the Serengeti and the migration. The damage to Tanzania’s tourism industry will grow accordingly. As news of conflicts among wildlife and highway traffic, human settlement, and other factors mount, the negative press will increase. There is likely to be cross-border disagreements between Kenya and Tanzania, as the highway affects tourism to Kenya’s Masai Mara Reserve. Negative press, the degradation of the Serengeti itself, and competition from other areas of Africa will increasingly accelerate a decline of Tanzania’s tourist industry.

The Real Cost of the Highway

The projected budget of the highway is much too low. There are costs that far exceed the construction cost of surveying, preparing the road bed, and surfacing.

Tangible Costs: The Serengeti Highway is budgeted at US$ 470,000,000 nearly half a billion dollars. To this sum, however, must be added:

(a) Unanticipated infrastructure costs: The real cost of the highway in the near and long term should not be underestimated. There will be increasing traffic along highway, requiring fences and perhaps overpasses. This occurred in Bamff National Park in Canada, when a road cut across the path of just 800 elk. After collisions with vehicles, the cost of constructing barriers became extremely high. Animals will also wander out of the park, and with no buffer zone, there will be conflicts with the growing human settlement. More fences and other expenses will be required.  (Source: Serengeti Biodiversity Centre)

(b) Loss of tourism revenue and jobs. The Tanzania tourism industry provides the following:

  • Gross Domestic Product (GDP):  8% or US$ 1.759 billion.
  • Exports:  23% of total exports, or US$ 1.15 billion.
  • Employment: 6.3% of total employment, 624,000 jobs, or 1 in every 15.8 jobs in 2010,

It was previously estimated that real GDP growth for Travel & Tourism economy is expected to be -0.1% in 2010 and to average 5.9% per annum over the coming 10 years.(Source: Word Travel & Tourism Council)

If the Serengeti highway is constructed, however, the predicted growth will undoubtedly not happen. In fact, it is apparent that Tanzanian will experience a loss in tourism revenues and jobs.

In 2010-2011, there will be increased world reaction to the highway, as shown in Stages I & II above. It is possible that there will be a “see it before it’s gone” effect, motivating some travelers. But even if it happens, it will be short lived.

In 2012, the construction of the highway will certainly cause alarm for travelers as the world press and public opinion grow increasingly vocal. Beyond 2012, there will a decline in visitors because of actual damage to the Serengeti and migration, as outlined in Stage III.

Amount of Tourism Decline

How much decline in tourism will be caused by the building of the highway and the world backlash against it?  After the turmoil of the 2007 presidential election in Kenya and the civil unrest that followed, tourism revenues dropped 54 percent from 2007 in the first quarter of 2008. (Source: Reuters. May 2008)

A drop may not be of that magnitude, but it does show the volatility that African tourism can experience. This project would have a large impact because of the historic and iconic status of the world’s greatest wildlife migration and National Park.

When asked in a survey of travel companies about the likely percentage drop in tourism they would experience should the highway be constructed,

  • more than 54% of respondents said 50% or more.
  • 10% said their travelers would drop by 40%.
  • 19% said it would drop by 30%.

 

The chart below uses a much more conservative percentage drop in tourism, but even so the figures are dramatic.

Year

 

Loss of GDP Loss of Jobs
2011 – 1% tourism drop =  – $15.6 million – 6,240
2012 – 5% tourism drop =  – $87.9 million – 31,200
2013 – 2018 –  5% yearly drop =  – $439.7 million – 156,200

With the above drop in visitors, the total cost over just 8 years could be:

  • $545 million in GDP
  • 193,000 jobs

The impact of the highway, however, will extend indefinitely into the future, increasing as the damage to the ecosystem increases and the status and unique “brand” of the Serengeti are ultimately lost. Moreover, the income from the Serengeti National Park is used to subsidize other Tanzanian parks; these will suffer as well.

Job loss will be difficult to recover, especially as the quality that the tourist industry provides is

“labor intensive, provides a wide range of different employment opportunities – from work for the highly skilled to the unskilled; contributes to a geographical spread of employment – not only in the main centres but also in rural areas; employs more women and young people than most other industries; creates opportunities for many small entrepreneurs.” (Source: Dr. Dawid de Villiers, UN Conference on Least Developed Countries, May 2001)

Opportunity Cost

The flawed decision process that led to the highway will make donor countries, NGO’s and especially private investors leery of investment in Tanzania, especially since public opinion in donor countries would be sharply against future involvement.

As has been noted with Kenya’s tourism industry decline:

Kenya’s increasingly negative image affected not just tourists, but also investors, resulting in a further decline in both the quality of services and maintenance of tourism facilities.

 

“It is clear that the factors contributing to Kenya’s tourism decline are various but inter-related. Poor governance and political tensions are related to the economic downturn that ultimately affected foreign investments, infrastructural expenditure and maintenance. The downturn therefore could be viewed as a combination of political, exogenous and policy failure effects that operated individually or concurrently over a period of time.” (Source: Samuel Kareithi, University of Luton, UK, Feb 2003)

Cost to National Heritage and Image

“In accepting the trusteeship of our wildlife we solemnly declare that we will do everything in our power to make sure that our children’s grand-children will be able to enjoy this rich and precious inheritance.” — Dr. Julius Kambarage Nyerere

Tanzania is well known in the world for its protection of priceless natural areas. This long legacy of protection has served Tanzania well. It is an intangible asset of the country that is difficult to measure. A commercial highway through the Serengeti affects both the world perception of Tanzania and also a set of values and a conservation ethic held by the people and government.

If the highway is constructed, it is safe to say that the world will never again look upon Tanzania in the same way. Though intangible, this has impacts for the country going forward.

The negative economic impact can be avoided. There is an alternate route possible around the southern end of the Serengeti. See the discussion here.

Appendix: Travel Industry Petition

As of October 6, 2010, there have been 5,790 signers around the world of the following petition, with more signing each day. Countries included:

Australia  New Zealand  Germany  England  France  Belgium  Abu Dhabi  Tanzania     Hong Kong  Switzerland  Canada  Scotland  Kenya  Uganda  Indonesia  Nepal  United States … and many more

The country with one of the largest number of petitioners was South Africa. Among the organizations signing was the Adventure Travel Trade Association, with 550 members worldwide.

[Petition text]

Travel Industry Against the Serengeti Highway

Our company has joined others in the international travel industry to strongly protest a proposed highway across the Serengeti National Park.

 

There are many sound environmental arguments against this highway. It would surely destroy the integrity of a priceless world heritage that has been protected by the people of Tanzania since the birth of your country.

 

The economic costs will be high as well. If this project continues, we foresee great damage to the reputation and the economy of your country. Public opinion will be strong. The world will no longer look on Tanzania as a great protector of its natural heritage.

 

The position of Tanzania in the world travel marketplace will drop, along with the future of your tourism industry. Billions of shillings in foreign exchange needed for development will be jeopardized as travelers look elsewhere.

 

We urge you to listen to the advice of your friends in the travel industry around the world.  Tanzania can be proud of its heritage as a world leader in conservation. We urge you to halt plans for this highway and follow the long legacy of protection that has served Tanzania well.

38 Comments

  1. Pingback: A case for the Southern Route Around the Serengeti | Save The Serengeti

  2. Dukejuke

    Those billions should go instead to upgrading EXISTING infrastructure and urban roads as a much needed step to trying to manage the rapid urbanization that the major cities in Tanzania are already facing. That is what is truly crippling our economy and this highway is not necessary at all.

    1. ANK

      i disagree! there is a need for a highway in this area and there are alternative routes that can be used and NOT through the serengeti. the cities though in dire need of infrastructure are not the only priority. we are struggling to move goods and people across the country. access to market for farmers is a nightmare. life in the cities will always be expensive if we dont sort this out. unfortunately all are critical…that is what is crippling our economy and someone has to play Solomon and make some hard decisions

    1. Teg70

      I know it has been kept secret to Tanzanians while people from overseas are protecting for nearly 18months now. I heard this news from opposition few months ago on their campaign rally in Arusha town. Kikwete and his associate friends (mafisadi) are behind this doggy project as the way they did to some mining contracts, they just signed abroad to sign them secretly to foreign investors without telling Tanzanians and locals from those minings. If they would take the matter to the parliament every Tanzanian would know about this project. Most members of parliament are not happy about the decision

  3. flywithmetrip

    Wouldn't it be easier and cheaper to connect the central road (Dar – Dodoma – Kigali) with a branch to Arusha (as it is connected with Mwanza)? Mwanza could be reached from Arusha as directly as via the Serengeti and you would have a new connection to Dodoma, Shinyanga and Kigali. (Musoma is much smaller than Mwanza.) This new branch would be shorter than building a completely new route. Remaining budget should be used instead to speed up paving the road Dodoma – Kigali.

    1. flywithmetrip

      With so many animals being injured and killed on the Tanzam-Highway in Mikumi NP (by trucks, busses, cars, …) it is irresponsible to build a paved road through the Serengeti.
      By the way: Rangers in the Serengeti already have to cope with poachers on the edges of the NP. It wouldn't be easier to control if they enter the NP on the highway and hunt there…

  4. Rjharr

    I suggest that those who are opposed to the road going through the Serengeti and those who want to seek a better “solution” by routing the road around the southern end of the Serengeti (which doubles the length and the cost by the way) begin donating money now to help cover the costs and save the environment. There are Tanzanians who will benefit from the road there is no doubt about that. We can't sit in our comfortable offices and lash out against a country by degrading the name, petitioning, and boycotting while taking away an opportunity from someone else.

  5. Pwoolfrey

    How can anyone change our mindset? Most of us Tanzanians THINK ASPHALT and CONCRETE is development. A small minority [ including me] adore nature and the wild.The rest Believe that the [horrible] cluster of skyscrapers in New York city is absolutely MARVELLOUS and what we should aim for here!. Who needs animals we are not allowed to flog or consume?! We need [also] more space for our cattle, sheep and goats!..SADLY I categorically say ,that since we Tanzanians have the right to decide….the highway in the serengeti WILL be built and as the ongoing trend to so called development…THE SERENGETI SHALL SURELY DIE

    1. Safarililly

      The Serengeti will surely die…along with our economy if you keep thinking that way. It shocks and saddens me that you’re willing to trade the Serengeti, a national treasure, so that your cattle and goats can graze peacefully. And who will be using the highway? Certainly not the average rural Tanzanian.

  6. Ejweigand58

    The last great mammal migration will be gone due to the proposed highway. There are already too many threats to the Mara river with overpopulation and charcoal harvesting. This would be the last straw. How can we stop this from happening???

    It makes me so sad and dissapointed. They must reroute this raod south of the Serenegeti. We must aslo find a way to help the settlers that are slah and burning the forest which are in return drying out the Mara river. This will create a disaster to the migration killing hundreds of thousands of wildlife.

    Are their any programs addressing this issue and ways for us to help!!!!

  7. beachgirl

    I was in Tanzania and the Serengeti two years ago and it was one of the most awesome experiences of my life, seeing the magnificent wild animals in their natural habitat. Our small group tried hard to make our presence cause as little impact as possible because we recognized that it was the lack of modernity that allowed for our wonderful experience.

    The proposed road will devastate this region and literally destroy hundreds of thousands of wild animals. It will also ultimately devastate the lovely country of Tanzania and its people who currently profit from responsible tourism. Tanzania has been one of the leaders of animal conservation and management and their preservation of the Serengeti and other regions for the benefit of wildlife has been a shining example for other countries to follow. How can this travesty of a road even be considered? To put a highway through the Serengeti is the equivalent of declaring war on all the wildlife that roams there with the ultimate aim of destroying them.

    I have written letters and made a donation to the Serengeti Watch, as I hope many others will. But what else can we do? Anyone?

  8. Tatyana

    I have never been at Tanzania and in all probability will never be. But I know – Serengeti shall not die. Our authorities as the same of Tanzania. They permit business corporations to kill objects of World Heritage as Serengeti at Tanzania, as Baikal in Russia.

  9. Des_marshall

    ALL tourism must be stopped with immediate effect. Travel companies who offer trips to ANY tourist spot in Tanzania MUST take the itinerary out of their dossiers. The Tanzanian Government need to realise that this is rape of a historic and wonderful area. Wildlife will be decimated and the migration could well become a thing of the past. As an organiser of trips to Kilimanjaro, Serengetti, Ngorogoro and Lake Natron I WILL NOT BE offering ANY trips to Tanzania in the future, certainly not until the Tanzanian Government come to their senses and re rout the highway.

  10. Blue

    I’m booking a trip to the parks of Tanzania for the month of November. What should I do? I take this opportunity to see one of the most beautiful places on earth before they destroy it? Or is it better to wait in the hope that everything will be resolved for the best?
    I am a nervous if I think I have to give money to a government that spits on the most amazing place that you can get. I have no words!

  11. Marco Rossini

    When i visited Serengeti, on November 2004, i bought a t-shirt with a wondeful message: “Serengeti never die forever” .
    It’s one of the most beutiful place in the world, and a very importanr sink of biodiversity, to build an highway trought it it the same to destryoed it’s ecositem as it’s actually! It’s a very big mistake without a futurible economic vision:
    we pay 50 dollar each one every day to stay there, and we pay to for to go inside it.
    We must preserve Serengeti!

    1. Lalashe2000

       ü“What I can assure the activists  is that Serengeti Shall not die and the
      proposed road has many social and economic 
      advantages to the people of Mara and Arusha regions” JAKAYA MRISHO KIKWETE PRESIDENT OF TANZANIA“What I can assure the activists  is that Serengeti Shall not die and the
      proposed road has many social and economic 
      advantages to the people of Mara and Arusha regions” JAKAYA MRISHO KIKWETE PRESIDENT OF TANZANIA

  12. Annabella

    Unfortunately, your economic impact statement refering to tourism may no longer be vof much importance. Uranium, gas and large quantities of gold have been found around the Serengeti. This is the whole reason for this highway. The Serengeti is now in the way of huge amounts of wealth. Unfortunately, as in most cases, onlly a few individuals, both Tanzanian and foreign, will be the only beneficieries of this, and the people of Tanzania and neighbouring countries, will not only not benefit for these resources, but will actually be left poorer becuase of it. We may still be able to save it, if we could get Kikwete to understand he could have both his mines and his tourism, by just building the road in the south. Let’s keep up the pressure

    1. Sp_edz

      From 1970 to 1965, Total costs were about US $500 million, to build the Tanzania-Zambia Railway making this project, at that time, the largest foreign-aid project ever undertaken by China. The Chinese workers ate their way through the Selous National Reserve. The Elephant counts in the early 80′s carried out by Alex Douglas Hamilton were alarming. The resources of the Northern areas of the Serengeti are not new discoveries they are from the time of Sheeba.

    1. Lalashe2000

      You better not come because the northern highway will be built. Whatever you are coming to do is not worthy the lives of thousands of Tanzania dying of poverty and the curse related to wildlife in areas around Serengeti (Loliondo, Mugumu, and Bunda). I believe if you value human being find out what benefits will the northern road brings to 431,000 people en route  the highway. You know very little of the problems that Tanzanians are facing in the area. YOU ENJOY WILDLIFE IN THE SERENGETI TANZANIANS IN AREA SUFFER AS A RESULT OF THE SERENGETI.  the highway. You know very little of the problems that Tanzanians are facing in the area. YOU ENJOY WILDLIFE IN THE SERENGETI TANZANIANS IN AREA SUFFER AS A RESULT OF THE SERENGETI.

  13. Fraugeld

    The stronghold of Kikwete’s ruling party is in the North, the one of the opposition in the South. Any idea why he is not even considering the Southern Solution? Blaming non Tanzanians of not wanting TZ to develop is – excuse my words – bullshit. We live in the 21st century and a lot of people on this planet realized that we have only one. To think the adverse and to think that roads are development makes me thinking of this people as “they just came down the tree” – whoever they are, whereever they are from. One could be better informed and just has to open one’s eyes, ears and heart – not the pocket!

  14. Ntapanta

    As Tanzania, i still wonder how this man was elected to the office,because this decision is real idiotic.I am totally differing with all those ignore road construction as part of development, i think they have never been in Loliondo ,Lolosokwani or sonjo, they are in London,NY or somewhere else in Europe.I cant ignore the need of infrastructural development in communities near Serengeti.What we activists in Tanzania argues is we need infrastructural development to Masai communities around all district surrounding Serengeti with no impacts to Serengeti Ecosystem.We advocate for no road through Serengeti or any further development projects in national Parks,but we are coming from the same community where they travel 9-10 hours to access regional hospital.This is not fare at all,they need roads and other social services as human being “right to development”.The most important issues is Serengeti shall never die and communities around access normal services as humans

    1. Lalashe2000

      Of all the decision that the government ever made is to build the northern highway. Travel through the places that the road is proposed to pass and see the kin of life they are in and give me feedback? I believe after you come to the other end you will be able to change your mind about Jakaya Mrisho Kikwete. He might have done a good number of blunders but on this he deserve a praise.

  15. Lalashe2000

     You are not objective could you please analyze objectively the benefits that the highway will bring to both tourism and other sectors of the economy to public general. Remember benefits currently accrued from tourism do not benefit the people of Tanzania but only those who defended tourism a few including Frankfurt Zoological Society associates and friends  . Who benefits the current tourism activities? Conduct a survey and publish the results? You do not care about the common Tanzanian who are deep in poverty, to my surprise even those who live closer to the SENEPA can not afford three meals a day, leave alone the employment that this paper boast of. Stop kidding the highway must be built it is up to the Tanzanian to decide.  even those who live closer to the SENEPA can not afford three meals a day, leave alone the employment that this paper boast of. Stop kidding the highway must be built it is up to the Tanzanian to decide. 

  16. Lalashe2000

     Dr. Julius Kambarage Nyerere: If our people are not benefiting now from the Serengeti,  Do you think there is an opportunity to benefit in the future. I doubt. Conservationist are killing people in Mugumu, Bunda and Tabora B and the surrounding areas. Children are being abducted and imprisoned, Livestock are are being confiscated and left to die,  how can you say that Serengeti is to the benefit of our future children. I believe you do not know what is happening in the tourist industry particularly the Serengeti. The people of the north should be given the road to develop and get out poverty as there is nothing they benefit from tourism now and in the future.  A common Tanzanian is left to die in deep poverty. I do value the Serengeti. It is unfortunate that it is in Tanzania but those who benefit are not Tanzanian. Find for yourself Dr. Nyerere I believe you are not informed.  areas. Children are being abducted and imprisoned, Livestock are are being confiscated and left to die,  how can you say that Serengeti is to the benefit of our future children. I believe you do not know what is happening in the tourist industry particularly the Serengeti. The people of the north should be given the road to develop and get out poverty as there is nothing they benefit from tourism now and in the future.  A common Tanzanian is left to die in deep poverty. I do value the Serengeti. It is unfortunate that it is in Tanzania but those who benefit are not Tanzanian. Find for yourself Dr. Nyerere I believe you are not informed. 

    1. Alice

      Well mister Lalashe, this highway will not solve the problems of the poor Tanzanians. Education and birth control will.
      Almost 200.000 jobs will be lost if this road will be build. The income of the mines will benefit only a few people and mining is not a healthy job for the workers. Tourism is healthier and toursists buy souvenirs. So more independent jobs of crafts.
      The life’s of more then 1 million animals, who have been there longer then mankind are at stake. They never doubled in numbers as nature has the ability to keep in balance. Mankind can learn something from nature as we don’t keep balance. We want more, more children, need more food and are greedy. Watch the population world clock and fear the future of the world.

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