The Zanzibar government is attracting Indonesian business ventures to invest in the island’s fast-growing tourism industry, targeting to raise the number of visitors to the island in the next 2 years.
Zanzibar President Dr. Ali Mohammed Shein said his government is now targeting to attract 500,000 tourists in 2020 through joint venture business and training programs with Indonesia and other states looking to partnership with the island, one among them being the leading African destination for beach and marine tourism.
He said that Zanzibar was looking to capitalize on experience from Indonesia to fast-track tourism development. Training of tourist personnel and development of high-class tourist hotels are the key areas the island is expecting to benefit from with regard to Indonesians.
The Zanzibar President was in Indonesia recently for an official business visit which took him to Bali island, the world’s famous tourist pulling island. He also toured key Indonesian tourist sites and accommodation training centers.
Reports from Zanzibar said that Dr. Shein had invited Indonesian business companies to venture into seaweed cultivation in Zanzibar, saying the crop accounts for about 24,000 jobs to the island’s people. Zanzibar is the world’s third-largest producer behind Indonesia and the Philippines.
He said that Zanzibar is now targeting to develop a marine-based economy, banking on the island’s rich resources from the Indian Ocean.
He said that his government is open for investors who would contribute to making the island maintain its rich history to become a business hub in East Africa.
“We will create an enabling environment for local and international companies to fulfill their investment ambitions without obstacles,” the Zanzibar President said.
With a population of about one million people, the Zanzibar economy depends on Indian Ocean resources – mostly tourism and international trade. The island has been a target for high-class tourists, competing closely with the Vanilla Islands which consists of Seychelles, Mauritius, and the Maldives.
Tourism contributes more than 80 percent of Zanzibar’s foreign exchange earnings and 27 percent of the island’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP).
The Zanzibar Association of Tourism Investors (ZATI) had calculated tourism income in 2017 would reach $350 million.
The island has set the Vision 2020 target to attract 500,000 tourists per year. Competing with other Indian Ocean islands such as Seychelles, Reunion, and Mauritius, Zanzibar has at least 6,200 tourist hotel beds in 6 classes of accommodation.
Major Gulf airline carriers, including Emirates, Flydubai, Qatar Airways, Oman Air, and Etihad, have launched daily and weekly flights to Tanzania with connections to Zanzibar, supporting the island’s tourism sector.
Egypt Air is the newcomer, set to launch direct flights between Cairo and Zanzibar. The airline’s vice president, Mohamed Alabbady, met with the Zanzibar President in April this year to discuss Egypt Air’s plan to fly to Zanzibar.
President Shein said Zanzibar would benefit from its direct flights between Cairo and the island. Cairo flights are envisaged to pump up the volume of trade between Egypt and the Indian Ocean island (Zanzibar), while also strengthening the historic relationship between the two nations, Dr. Shein said.
He said that Zanzibar stands in a better position to share tourism benefits with the rest of East Africa through its pristine beaches and rich Indian Ocean resources.
He said the East African region is rich with abundance of natural tourist attractions and magnificent wildlife, but the number of international tourist arrivals in the region is comparatively low.
“It has been reported that the East African region receives less than 5 million tourists and holidaymakers from abroad a year out of over one billion, which is the world’s total. This number, in fact, does not reflect the global popularity and fame of our tourist attractions; the same holds true for Zanzibar,” Dr. Shein said.
Zanzibar was among the first African destination for early travelers from India, China, and the Middle East. Early travelers included the Greek writer of the Periplus of the Erythraean Sea, Ibn Battuta, and Vasco Da Gama, among other such visitors.