Zanzibar tourist show to push for greater growth

15Oct 2018
Cynthia Stacey     
The Guardian
Zanzibar tourist show to push for greater growth

THIS week, Zanzibar is expected to host its first major three-day tourism event, themed: “Responsible tourism for a better greener tomorrow”.

 Minister of Information, Tourism and Heritage Mahmoud Thabit Kombo,  recently said that Zanzibar will soon be on course to reach a target of 500,000 tourists. (File photo) 

Major exhibitors and key stakeholders are expected to participate on this unique occasion, which will take place between October 17th and 19th, in the Verde Hotel, at Mtoni, Zanzibar.

The Zanzibar President Dr. Ali Mohamed Shein is expected to attend, as will Minister of Information, Tourism and Heritage, Mahmoud Thabit Kombo, who said: “This initiative is part of a promotional strategy, to further assist Zanzibar in maintaining a sustainable place in the world market, assisted by the private sector also.”

The minster pointed out that it is over twenty years since the government embarked on economic reforms intending to diversify the economy, of which the tourist sector is the most vital.      

The three-day event will include film screenings, seminars, a tour of the island’s countryside, and an awards ceremony to honour champions and pioneers in the sector.

Media co-ordinator of the event Ali Sultan writes that since its infancy in the early 90’s, tourism has undoubtedly accelerated economic growth, resulting in greater employment, and through revenue collections, a greatly broadened tax base.  It was a time not only of economic transformation, but also new industrialisation, and technological advancements, he writes.

Government statistics on figures state that the islands tourism sector accounts for 27 per cent of GDP, 80 per cent of revenue, and provides the highest sector employment rate of 72, 000 jobs. 

According a press release on this year’s event, Zanzibar is famous for its white sandy beaches, and has an environment, which could make the country a leader in ecotourism.

However, some ‘green’, tourism entrepreneurs say increased development, resulting in more hotels, and the rapidly escalating numbers of visitors, are the very reasons that could endanger or affect ‘eco-tourism’.    An observer said: “Hopefully this special event, should provide a forum for this viewpoint.”

Famed photographer and pioneering entrepreneur Javed Jafferji, who is a promoter of the Zanzibar Tourism show, said: “we need to think of many varied strategies to succeed in a sustainable way, without damage to the environment, but we also need to be tough, as there’s cut throat competition out there.”   

And to this end, Zanzibar recently scooped an award from the World Tourism Council for the emerging destination market, at a ceremony held in Cairo, Egypt last month.