Zanzibar, semi-autonomous archipelago, Tanzania, East Africa, in the Indian Ocean c. 20 mi (32 km) off the mainland, consisting of the island of Zanzibar or Unjuga (1994 est. pop. 800,000), 600 sq mi (1,554 sq km), Pemba, and neighboring smaller islands. The potential for tourism to be a major earner of foreign currency has been recognised and this is being developed. The Zanzibar commission for tourism was founded in 1987 to promote Zanzibar as a tourist destination, and in 1992 the Zanzibar investment promotion agency was created to encourage overseas investment, particularly in tourism projects. Tourism currently represents about 20% of Zanzibar’s gross domestic product (GDP), which contrasts with cloves, which account for around 45% of GDP. The Zanzibar commission for tourism was founded in 1987 to promote Zanzibar as a tourist destination, and in 1992 the Zanzibar investment promotion agency was created to encourage overseas investment, particularly in tourism projects.
Recent data by the Zanzibar Tourism Commission showed tourism to increasingly becoming a leading economic sector in the island, providing 11,500 workers with direct employment and an additional 45,000 people engaged in tourist activities. The income from tourism is rising and it is expected to be Zanzibar’s largest generator of foreign exchange within about a decade. The first half of the 1990s saw a remarkable boost in the development of tourism. In 1995, over 56,000 visitors were arriving in Zanzibar each year – contributing an estimated US$1,971 million to the economy. By the end of 2005, numbers had exceeded 100,000 visitors per year for the first time.
Tourism is the fast growing economic sector in Zanzibar. About 50 percent of the Isle’s population would be involved in tourism activities by the year 2020, forecasting a robust growth of the sector in few years to come. The tourism sector would be a major catalyst in the promotion of agriculture, employment, and fisheries and helping in creating more jobs in local industries. So far, tourism is a source of Zanzibar’s foreign currency earnings by 70 percent.
Whilst export earnings from this traditional commodity fall (for more details see the Cloves box in the Flora section on page 48), the income from tourism is rising to plug the gap. Some observers expect it to be Zanzibar’s largest generator of foreign exchange within about a decade. Zanzibar is looking at tourism as the leading foreign revenue source, as the number of foreign tourists visiting the island has been growing in the last two decades. Zanzibar. According to official data, tourism is currently the Island’s leading source of foreign revenue and contributes up to 70 percent of export value in foreign income. The number of tourists visiting the Isles has been growing at 9.6% annually which is attributed to improved infrastructure including a modernized airport, roads and friendly environment.
Competing with other Indian Ocean Islands of Seychelles, Reunion and Mauritius, Zanzibar received about 200,000 tourists last year. Last year Zanzibar Island recorded 175,067 foreign visitors, surpassing a projection of 160,000 tourists. Zanzibar boasts of 20 five-star hotels out of 263 hotels established on the beach sites and the historic Stone Town. The Island has been a target for high-class tourists, competing closely with Seychelles, Mauritius and Maldives. Rich cultures and old Arabic architecture pull thousands of tourists to the Island each year, bringing balanced competition with other coastal towns along the Indian Ocean.
The Indian Ocean tourist Island of Zanzibar is looking at tourism as the isle’s leading economic sector and a leading employer to a half of the island’s workforce. The Isle’s government would work closely with the private sector to improve marine transportation in order to improve the national economy through the tourism sector, which had see an annual growth of 15 percent and contributed between 25 and 27 percent to the isle’s gross domestic product (GDP). Cruise shipping tourism is the other source of tourist income to Zanzibar due to the island’s geographical position with its proximity in the Indian Ocean island states of Seychelles, Mauritius, Madagascar, and Mombasa on the Kenyan coast.
by Mahmoud Kombo,
Minister of Tourism
Minister of Tourism