Tourists inflow now compares with high pre-COVID 19 levels

12Jan 2021
By Guardian Reporter
The Guardian
Tourists inflow now compares with high pre-COVID 19 levels

​​​​​​​TOURISTS are flocking into Zanzibar despite the outbreak of the second wave of coronavirus infections sweeping across the world, resulting in countries taking various containment measures including lockdowns.

The increased number of visitors follows initiatives by the government which included improved quality of services and infrastructures at the Abeid Amani Karume International Airport. Most inflows are from Oman, Russia and Western Europe.

The tourism sector on this beautiful island has been growing rapidly over the years. Today most businesses on the island depend on the tourist market, officials say.

Recently, about five international airlines landed in the Indian Ocean archipelago with about 500 tourists, a big boost to the Isles government’s coffers.

Data from the Office of the Chief Statistician of Zanzibar shows that a total of 29,128 tourists entered the archipelago in November 2020 compared to 12,157 visitors in October 2019.

The number of foreign visitors to Zanzibar in November 2020 is equivalent to 61 percent of the 47,824 tourists who arrived in the Isles in November 2019.

Addressing journalists yesterday, Zanzibar airport spokesperson Mulhat Yusuf linked the rising numbers  with the various COVID-19 containment measures taken by the government.

“When countries struggled to battle the pandemic, most airlines suspended trips to Zanzibar but had now resumed the routes. Tourists are coming to Zanzibar because we do not have coronavirus infections,” the official intoned.

Before allowing the resumption of tourism activities, the government set standard operating procedures (SOPs) which require visitors to present medical documentation of their COVID-19 status.

The SOPs are applied to those involved in handling tourists, like tour guides, service providers and airport attendants. They are required to undergo regular COVID-19 tests to ensure only those testing negative attend the visitors.

Similarly, tourists entering Zanzibar are supposed to undergo a COVID-19 test, as the procedures are intended to ensure the safety of services to tourists by the service providers, and vice versa, she stated.

Bakar Khamis, the head of the Isles tourism statistics unit, was recently quoted saying visitors from Europe accounted for 83 percent of the 29,148 tourists who visited Zanzibar in November last year.

About 89.6 percent of the visitors were aged between 15 and 64 years, 7.4 percent were under the age of 15 and 3.0 percent were 65 years and above, he said..

“This last group of seniors is a very good group because they are good spenders,” he said.

“Most foreigners who entered the country preferred to stay for at least ten days, a step that is good in accordance with the government target of retaining the visitors for more than a week,” he further noted. Read More...