THE number of tourists visiting Zanzibar will most likely surpass 500,000 by December this year, a minister has said.
Briefing the media on the first ever Zanzibar Tourism Show 2018, kicking off today, Minister for Information, Tourism and Heritage Mahmoud Thabit Kombo said it was projected that the number of tourists would reach 526,000 this year.
This is more than the envisaged number of 500,000 tourists by 2020 projected in Chama Cha Mapinduzi's 2015-2020 Manifesto.
"We are certain that by December this year we're going to exceed the 2020 projection of 500,000 tourists," Mr Kombo said, noting that the sector of tourism was growing by 12 per cent.
"It is an upward growth trend compared to 8,721 rooms we currently have. We need 5,000 more rooms to cater for high demand," he noted.
In an effort to boost the tourism sector, the Zanzibar government in collaboration with the private sector has organised the Zanzibar Tourism Show, which opens today.
The event will be graced by Zanzibar President Ali Mohamed Shein. Mr Kombo explained that the Zanzibar Tourism Show aims at promoting tourism, investment and attract more investors in the sector, which accounts for 27 per cent of Zanzibar's GDP and 80 per cent of foreign revenue.
"The show is part of a promotional strategy in the sector of tourism initiated by the Zanzibar government in collaboration with the private sector. It aims at helping Zanzibar to position itself better in the global market," the minister said.
He further said the show had attracted some exhibitors, hoteliers, tour companies and local and foreign investors, who had shown willingness to participate in the event and display their products and services.
More than 130 exhibitors will participate in a threeday event with the theme: "Responsible Tourism for Better and Greener Tomorrow". It will take place at Verde Hotel, Mtoni.
The show will include field trips touring the Island's country side, sightseeing, film screening, tourism workshops and awards ceremony aimed at recognising and honouring champions in the sector of tourism, pioneers of the sector. Famous for its unspoiled white-sandy beaches and pristine environment, Zanzibar is proud of ecotourism.
Last year, the number of tourists, who visited the semi-autonomous archipelago reached 433,474. The sector of tourism provides employment to 7 2,000 people, according to government statistics.
According to the 2012 National Consensus, Zanzibar has 1.3 04 million people