Tanzania: Zanzibar Eyes Hotel Investors to Boost Local Tourism

Zanzibar is courting international investors to the Island's fast growing tourism industry as it seeks to raise the number of leisure and business visitors.

Over the past two years, global chains have set up businesses on the island, making it among the leading hotel investment destinations in East Africa. Madinat El Bahr Hotel and RIU Hotels and Resorts for example, opened their businesses in mid this year, while Hotel Verde set up late last year. RIU Hotels and Resorts is a Spanish chain operating mostly in Europe and Latin America. Zanzibar is its first investment in East Africa. The $56 million RIU Palace Zanzibar on Nunwgi Beach has 149 rooms.

The $38 million worth Madinat El Bahr Hotel on the other hand is owned by a Tanzanian Rustamali Merali. Hotel Verde which operates under the Verde Chain management of South Africa is owned by the Zanzibar tycoon Said Salim Bakhresa.

Zanzibar President Dr Ali Mohammed Shein said this past week that the island, with its pristine beaches and rich Indian Ocean resources now stands a better chance to compete for tourism benefits with the rest of East Africa.

He said that his government is looking to attract more investors in hotel and tourism as the island seeks to become more competitive. More recently, the government is working with the Comoros to encourage business on the East Coast of the Indian Ocean.

More than 520,800 tourists visited the island last year, making, tourism the leading economic sector for Zanzibar. The Island is now receiving over $312 million from tourism every year.

Last year, Zanzibar launched an annual tourism show to market the island. The Zanzibar Tourism Show will be taking place in September each year. Organisers hope to attract more than 650,000 visitors next year.

Zanzibar Minister for Information, Tourism and Heritage Mahmoud Thabit Kombo told The EastAfrican this past week that the Island's tourism marketing plan 2015- 2020, launched in July will bring together tourist companies operating in Zanzibar to market tourist products under a single roof.

"We launched Destination Marketing Brand to pull more tourists to Zanzibar," said Mr Kombo.

Under the marketing plan, Zanzibar also hopes to increase average tourists length of stay from eight days to 10, and the average daily spend to $570 from of $307.

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