AnalysisBy Issa Yussuf
Zanzibar — Last month, Mr Kunal Kapoor from Indian Film Industry visited Zanzibar as a special guest at the annual Zanzibar International Film Festival (ZIFF).
And veteran politician Mr Zitto Kabwe of ACT-Wazalendo party had seized the opportunity to tie the knot on the island. Mr Kabwe, unknowingly, had joined a long list of eligible bachelors who had chosen Zanzibar as a 'wedding destination' and an ideal holiday spot for honeymoon.
Tourist operators and officials from the Zanzibar Commission for Tourism (ZCT) say many people also choose the islands for other celebrations.
The coming of Mr Kapoor from a family of traditions of cinema and theatre was facilitated by Zanzibar Tourism Promotion Centre (ZTPC) in India, set up in March 2015 under the Presidential initiative & vision between the Ministry of Information, Culture, Tourism & Sports -Government of Zanzibar, The Zanzibar Commission for Tourism & JHIL Enterprises, Mumbai, India.
The organisation aims to create awareness and promote Zanzibar and its tourism attractions on the Indian Sub Continent with a view to tapping a fast growing Indian Outbound Travel Industry.
The venture to bring Mr Kapoor- Bollywood actor and producer was spearheaded by Mr Jilesh Babla, a Tanzanian Citizen, who has been promoting Zanzibar & Tanzania in India from the past two decades.
"Our focus is to promote the islands to film makers and couples planning wedding parties. This will definitely increase the number of guests, including tourists visiting the islands," said Dr Ahmada Khatib- Chairman, Zanzibar Commission for Tourism (ZCT).
He said in collaboration with tourist operators, Tanzania ambassadors abroad, brochures, media and a website, his office has been advertising the islands as a holiday destination.
"The number of tourists from the new markets, mainly the Far East, like China and India has been increasing," Dr Khatib said. He said improved infrastructure and peace have added value to help get more tourists estimated to surpass, by next January, the current record of three-hundred thousands tourists per year.
Dr Khatib said Zanzibar is likely to surpass over fivehundred thousand tourists by 2020 target should the advertisement continue alongside security and political stability. The ZCT chairman said security situation in Mombasa, Kenya should not be linked to the increasing number of tourists visiting the islands.
"There is nothing to celebrate because terrorism and other crimes remain a global threat," he said.
He said a country cannot be happy when neighbour has problems. "We are now seeing big changes in tourism mainly because of advertising Zanzibar abroad, with focus on nations with emerging economies in Asia.
We have run adverts in the US and Western countries.
We are also promoting sustainable tourism to protect environment including conserving the beaches."
He said hunting for new markets is unavoidable because tourism is changing rapidly, as visitors need to have another 'taste' other than the traditional heritage, a challenge to the government and private enterprise to develop new approaches to the tourism market.
Zanzibar now identifies tourism as a priority sector to achieve its development goals as set out in the Vision 2020 strategy. T
ourism contributes about 27 percent to the Islands GPD annually. Mr Seif Masoud Al- Miskry, Chairman Zanzibar Association for Tourism Investors (ZATI) said that although the number of tourists has been increasing, the government has to increase marketing the islands. "So far there are prospects in the business.
According to the Hoteliers, record in July and this August is good. Thanks to the marketing initiatives by individual hotels and both governments (Zanzibar, Union), Mr Seif said.
He said the Mainland has been doing well in marketing, and "it is also to our advantage because after visiting the mainland, tourists also come to Zanzibar." The ZATI chairman said Scuba Diving, cycling tourism,' beach walking and other recreations are being promoted to attract more tourism, in addition the famous narrow streets and historical sites.
Minister for Information, Tourism, Culture, and Sports Mr Rashid Ali Juma has also appealed to stakeholders in tourism to promote local foods by establishing Zanzibar local foods Day. A
fter gracing the local foods day in Makunduchi Village, and similar day in Unguja- Ukuu village, both in the South of Zanzibar Island, the Minister said promoting the 'nearly' forgotten local cuisine would attract visitors.
According to tourism/visitors statistics from the Commission for Tourism, and Office of Chief Government statistician-Zanzibar (OCGSZ), the Islands have made a significant progress in developing and managing its tourism sector in recent years.
About 28,741 visitors/ tourists entered Zanzibar in March, 2016 which is an increase of 41.8 percent compared to corresponding month in March 2015 and a decrease of 15.9 percent compared to previous month. Europeans remain as the largest source of visitors to Zanzibar tourism.
Almost seven of every ten visitors (69.0 percent) who entered Zanzibar in March, 2016 were from Europe, Italians continue to dominate the Tourism market by accounting 17.0 percent of all visitors entered in March.
Germany follows by 12.6 percent and Scandinavian (8.1 percent) while New Zealand recorded the least (0.1 percent), and statistics shows that 25,003 visitors entered Zanzibar through Airport, among them 19,823 visitors came by international flights and 5,180 by domestic flights.
The remaining 3,738 visitors entered through seaport whereby 371 are day visitors (excursionist) and 3,367 entered by ferry boat from Tanzania Mainland. Generally, the number of visitors from emerging market increased by more than a hundred percent compared to corresponding month in 2015 and 17.8 percent compared to previous month.
The number of visitors from Israel significantly increased by more than hundred percent compared to corresponding month and previous month, moreover visitors from Ukraine and India declined by 86.4 and 26.1 percents respectively compared to previous month.