The airport is designed to transform Mugumu town and the Tanzanian wildlife-rich district of Serengeti into a tourist hub. It is expected to see a significant increase of tourists landing at Mugumu before travelling by motor vehicles into the world famous Serengeti National Park (Senapa).

Mr Ngoina assured a full council late last week that construction of the multimillion shilling project is set to commence as quick as possible.

?Already six companies have picked tender documents to bid and the progress is impressing,? the council chairman said. Late last year, the Ministry of State in the Vice-President?s Office In-charge of Environment issued a permit for construction of the airport to the Serengeti District leaders.

This is after the Environmental Impact Assessment(EIA) was done and doubts cleared that the project may have a bad impact on the Serengeti ecology. The location of the envisaged airport is about 40 km away from Senapa, hence officials say it does not have any threat on the sustainable conservation of the park.

According to officials here , improvement of the travel infrastructure is vital for responsible development of high yield-low impact tourism in western Serengeti.

Apart from creating jobs and a wide range of business opportunities the airport is expected to boost revenue of the district council upon completion.

Speaking in Mugumu during the same meeting, the Member of Parliament (MP) for Serengeti Constituency, Dr Steven Kebwe, urged the district council to see the construction of the airport as a good business opportunity.

?This is a good opportunity. Let us get ready to utilise the travel infrastructure by even building classic hotels,? Dr Kebwe, who is also Deputy Minister for Health and Social Welfare, said.

Singita Grumeti Reserve (SGR) which operates several luxurious lodges in western Serengeti has agreed to finance construction of the airport, according to Serengeti officials.

The lodges belong to Paul Tudor Jones, an American billionaire who had invested heavily on tourism, conservation and local development in Tanzania after falling in love with the Serengeti eco-system in recent years.

MUGINI JACOB, Tanzania Daily News

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