African country Tanzania wants to boost tourist numbers by putting a cable car on 19,341-foot Mount Kilimanjaro, the world’s tallest free-standing mountain and is in talks about the project with a Chinese and a Western company. 50,000 tourists climb Kilimanjaro annually and officials estimate a cable car could increase tourist numbers by 50 percent, reports the East African.
“We are still doing a feasibility study to see if this project works,” a government minister said. “There are two companies one from China and another from a Western country that have shown interest.”
The length of the route has not yet been finalized, with various options under consideration depending on cost and engineering issues, the minister said. An environmental impact assessment would also be carried out, he said.
Porter and guide groups who take tourists up the mountain oppose the project because they fear cable cars will reduce the number of climbers. Loishiye Mollel, head of Tanzania Porters’ Organization, said visitors normally spend a week climbing the mountain and expressed fears that the project will render the 250,000 porters destitute and could force them into lives of crime.
“One visitor from the U.S. can have a maximum of 15 people behind him, of which 13 are porters, a cook, and a guide. All these jobs will be affected by a cable car,” he said. “We are of the view that the mountain should be left as it is.”
The chief park warden with Kinapa, Betty Looibok, however, says that the construction of the cable car will depend on the outcome of the environmental and social impact assessment currently in progress.
“The cable car is for physically challenged persons, children and old tourists who want to experience the thrill of climbing Mt Kilimanjaro up to Shira Plateau without wishing to reach the summit,” she explained.
Tanzania’s earnings from tourism jumped 7.13 percent last year, helped by an increase in arrivals from foreign visitors. Tourism revenues raised $2.43 billion for the year, up from $2.19 billion in 2017, with the 50,000 Kilimanjaro climbers bringing in $55.3 million.
The mountain, in Kilimanjaro National Park in northern Tanzania, is managed by Tanzania National Parks (Tanapa), a government authority that manages all national parks in the country works with stakeholders in the tourism industry such as tour operators and guides, and in the case of Kilimanjaro, climbing guides and porters.