Arusha — TANZANIA remains committed to protecting heritage sites found in the country with the view of boosting tourism earnings.
Natural Resources and Tourism Minister Dr Pindi Chana reiterated the country’s stance while opening the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) Conference on Mentoring and World Heritage, here on Monday.
Dr Chana equally stressed the need to create awareness among stakeholders on the importance of the natural and cultural heritage properties.
“There is a great need for awareness creation and capacity building on best ways to protect the world heritage properties,” she said.
The two-day conference geared to empower African heritage professionals has been organised by UNESCO and other world heritage bodies.
It is also being held in Arusha to mark the 50th anniversary since the crafting of the UNESCO World Heritage Convention.
The Deputy Minister further called for an increased collaboration and cooperation among the state parties to the convention in order to promote heritage sites for their benefits.
“Heritage sites offer tourist attractions”, she said, noting that Tanzania was endowed with numerous natural and cultural properties.
According to Kevin Robert, a scientific expert with UNESCO, additional heritage sites of outstanding universal value have been identified in Tanzania.
They include Gombe National Park, the home of chimpanzees in Kigoma region and the long slave trade route from Bagamoyo to Kigoma.
Tanzania ratified the World Heritage Convention on August 2, 1977 and it has to date, seven properties inscribed on the World Heritage list.
They include the Serengeti National Park, Kilimanjaro National Park, Nyerere National Park (formerly Selous Game Reserve) and the Ngorongoro Conservation Area (NCA).
Others are Stone Town of Zanzibar, Kilwa Kisiwani and Songo Mnara ruins and Kondoa Rock-Art sites.
Currently studies are underway to see if the proposed sites met the benchmarks for elevation to internationally acclaimed heritage properties.
He added that one of the benchmarks was that there should be no conflict with the local communities on ownership of the sites.
Once cleared, the proposed areas would be preserved and protected for tourism and research purposes “for the global community”.
Among the proposed sites for elevation to the world heritage list is Gombe National Park region, the home of the chimpanzees.
Others are the long slave and ivory trade route from Bagamoyo to Kigoma and Jozani-Chwaka nature reserve in Zanzibar.
According to UNESCO, States Parties are encouraged to submit their Tentative Lists, properties which they consider to be cultural and or natural heritage of outstanding universal value and therefore suitable for inscription on the World Heritage List.
International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) representative Charles Lukania Olichina on his part, underscored the importance of adequate funding in protecting the world heritage sites.
“Challenges that heritage sites grappled with in the 70s aren’t the same as the ones we are experiencing today, we therefore need to allocate enough funds for their sustainability,” said the IUCN official.
Mr Olichina called upon civil rights groups and the youth to take a lead role in protecting the world heritage sites while the Executive Director of African World Heritage Fund (AWHF) Souayibou Varissou rooted for more capacity building in protecting the sites.