ZANZIBAR: ZANZIBAR has surpassed its tourist arrivals target ahead of time, after the number of local and foreign tourists arriving in the Indian Ocean semi-autonomous archipelago crossed the one million mark, surpassing the 850,000-tourists target by 2025 as per the ruling party CCM Election Manifesto 2020/2025.
“Zanzibar has managed to beat its target well ahead of time as the number of foreign tourists increased from 260,644 in 2020 to 548,503 tourists in 2022, while local tourists visiting the Isles attractions reached more than 500,000 tourists during the same period,” Zanzibar’s Minister for Tourism and Heritage Mr Simai Mohamed Said revealed.
“About 400,000 local tourists mainly from mainland Tanzania come to Zanzibar using water transport annually, while more than 100,000 fly into the Isles annually…the movement of local tourists from mainland Tanzania to Zanzibar is very high,” Mr Simai added.
The minister issued the statistics on Tuesday in Zanzibar, when giving the report on the implementation of development projects and achievements in the period of three years (2020-2023) of President Dr Hussein Mwinyi in the tourism sector.
Mr Simai attributed the success recorded to the good leadership of President Mwinyi and the Tanzania Royal Tour documentary featuring President Samia Suluhu Hassan that aimed at marketing the country’s tourism sector.
Coupled with that, he said for the period of three years (2020-2023), the docket developed a project to improve historical sites with the aim of preserving and maintaining historical heritage and increasing tourism attractions.
He said the programme for strengthening and developing historical sites involved areas such as Peace Memorial Museum, Chwaka-Tumbe Pemba Historical Site, Makangale cave site, Mangapwani, historical sites and Ras Mkumbuu ruins.
In particular, he noted that in 2020, accommodation and food services contributed for approximately 16 per cent of Zanzibar’s GDP.
For the year 2022, the tourism sector contribution to Zanzibar’s GDP reached 29.2 per cent, which is an increase of 13.2 per cent.
In line, he noted that, over the past five-year, tourism demand growth indicates a positive performance for the hospitality industry, where the number of hotel rooms has increased from 10,961 rooms in 2020 to 13,215 rooms in 2023, which is an increase of 20.58 per cent.
“Even the tourist’s average day of stay has increased from six days in 2020 to eight days in 2023,” he added.
Moreover, he said major airlines have increased flights to Zanzibar from five in 2020 to 10 airlines in 2023, including KLM, Air France, Global Airways, Hifly airline.
Adding: “This increase has greatly contributed to the arrival of tourists and opening new markets for Zanzibar such as the Portuguese Market.”
In a related development, he said the Ministry signed a contract for implementation of the renovation project of the Beit el-Ajaib (House of Wonders) building located at Forodhani, Unguja.
He added that the renovation of the building is funded by the government of the Kingdom of Oman and will cost 21 million US dollars and is being implemented by a local company, Nandhra Engineering and Construction Limited.
He said the completion of the project will restore the previous original charm of the area which will cause locals and foreign tourists to visit it for a full history.
“The agreement to construct the building was signed on February 2, this year and is expected to be implemented for a period of three years from the day it was signed,” he added.
Beit al-Ajiab is one of six palaces built by Sultan Barghash across the island and served mostly as an official reception hall. It is said to be on the site of the seventeenth century palace of Queen Fatuma.
The House of Wonders, the tallest building facing the harbour, dominates the seafront. It once sat alongside the original sultan’s palace, the Beit al-Sahel, the court building, Beit al-Hukum, and not far from the fortress-like Omani mansions with their fine woodwork.
The Stone Town of Zanzibar, a fine example of the Swahili coastal trading towns of East Africa, is a major tourist attraction, recognized as one of the best World Heritage sites.
The Stone Town, referred by locals as Mji Mkongwe (a swahili translation for Old Town), is an outstanding material manifestation of cultural fusion and harmonisation.
It has retained its urban fabric and townscape virtually intact and contains many fine buildings that reflect its particular culture, which has brought together and homogenised disparate elements of the cultures of Africa, the Arab region, India, and Europe over more than a millennium. Zanzibar boasts some of the most beautiful beaches in the world.
The tourism sector has become a significant contributor to the Zanzibar economy, receiving a number of tourists from various countries through the Abeid Amani Karume International Airport (AAKIA) located at Kisauni Zanzibar. AAKIA is the busiest Airport in Tanzania and has been receiving more visitors after its recent expansion.
Zanzibar is a melting pot of different cultures, including Africans, Arabs, Indians and Europeans. After living together for so many years, the community has created its unique identity, which among others includes beautification using minerals such as gold, silver and gems.