ZANZIBAR's tourism industry is gradually recovering, amid prospects of increased investments from 500 million US dollars to over a billion dollar (over 2.3tri/-).
Tourism and Heritage Minister Lela Muhamed Mussa, speaking to tourism investors here over the weekend, said the government is determined to pursue meetings, incentives, conferences and exhibitions (MICE) tourism to maximally explore the country's potential.
Total tourism investments are currently estimated at 500 million US dollars (over 1.15tri/-) but according to Zanzibar Commission for Tourism (ZCT) Director Dr Abdallah Mohammed Juma, efforts are underway to double the investment base to over a billion dollar.
Addressing the Zanzibar Association of Tourism Investors' (ZATI) Annual General Meeting (AGM), the minister invited serious investors in the lucrative sector, saying the country still boasts of huge and virgin investment potentials.
She reaffirmed the government's support to all players in the sector, which plays a critical role in the national economy, challenging the existing investors to explore new investment segments.
ZATI Vice-Chairperson Julia Bishop said the tourism industry in the isles has survived the 2020 year, expressing optimism for a revival in 2021.
"Zanzibar tourism has been on steady increase in the past 20 years. It peaked last year with over half a million tourist arrivals," the vice-chairlady told the AGM.
The country's key economic sector came to a standstill last April, following the outbreak of Coronavirus in March 2020. But the industry is gradually picking up, with the Indian Ocean's semi-autonomous archipelago receiving 12, 157 visitors last month.
"Although many of our traditional markets remain reluctant to travel, tourists have started to trickle back and regular charters from Russia and Eastern Europe are now filling many hotels in Zanzibar," Ms Bishop said.
She was optimistic that traditional tourists from Africa, Western Europe, Asia, Australia and America will start coming in 2021.
During the post AGM gala dinner, ZATI in collaboration with the public and private sectors launched a new promotional initiative "to thank the health service professionals around the world and kick-start the tourism economy in the islands."
Under the one thousand and one night initiative, over 50 hotels in Zanzibar have offered a total of 1001 complementary stays to individuals and their partners with proof of having helped to ease the Covid-19 pandemic.
"Zanzibar is saying to these people-thank you and welcome to the beautiful, exotic and tropical destination," said ZATI Chairman Seif Miskry while launching the promotional programme.
He said the programme aims at thanking health service providers and availing them with an opportunity to travel within budget.
"We also believe that this initiative will raise global awareness on Zanzibar Island as a safe and beautiful destination and help our island tourism economy to grow again," he said.