Zanzibar’s new tourism minister takes the helm
A glimmer of hope finally seems to dawn tourism in Zanzibaras a seasoned industry player, Mr. Simai Mohammed Said, has been appointed as the new Minister of Tourism and Antiquities.
In a surprise reshuffle a fortnight ago, the President of Zanzibar, Dr Hussein Mwinyi, chose Mr Simai to lead the archipelago’s mission to unlock the full potential of tourism, offering a lifeline to stakeholders industry, whose hopes rest on him.
Dr Mwinyi apparently appointed Mr Simai on the basis of the skill, skill, dedication and noble roles he played in Zanzibar tourism in his final efforts to induce the industry to contribute substantially to the island’s clove-dependent economy.
Tourism expert turned politician, Mr. Simai is considered an unsung hero of inclusive tourism who has made Zanzibar the best example of a beach and cultural tourism destination, attracting crowds of tourists, thanks to the Sauti za Busara festival, among other initiatives.
A former board member of the Zanzibar Association of Tourism Investors (ZATI) and chairman of the famous Sauti za Busara festival, the young minister has placed Zanzibar at the top of the list of the most beautiful seaside and cultural tourism destinations in the world.
“Mr. Simai is the right person, at the right time and on the right regime. I knew him for so many years, there is no doubt that his behavior will shape the tourism industry in Zanzibar,” Sirili Akko, CEO of the Tanzanian Association of Tour Operators (TATO), told eTurboNews.
Mr Akko said the task ahead of Mr Simai is to strategically connect the island of Zanzibar to the Tanzanian mainland to take advantage of Tanzania’s rich wildlife to sell its beaches to tourists looking for a beach combo package. -bush.
“Tourism is a new frontier in lifting Zanzibar out of poverty as it is a key employer and a subsector with a very long value chain.”
“The islands of Zanzibar and mainland Tanzania have a very important synergy because we don’t have the same products, which means there is complementarity of products,” Akko noted.
Indeed, if everything goes well, tourists after visiting the wildlife-rich attractions of mainland Tanzania would obviously go to the islands of Zanzibar to relax on the beach.
The Zanzibar Archipelago, located in the Indian Ocean 15 miles off the coast of Tanzania, is a breathtaking place to get away from the world.
Tourists enjoy clear turquoise blue water, shallow sandbanks perfect for wading, and many small, almost deserted islands virtually unvisited by vacationers.
Visitors can also explore the World Heritage Site of Stone Town, the old quarter of Zanzibar City. Or they can simply go from beach to beach between small fishing villages, each one better than the next.
“I will strive to accelerate the growth of the tourism industry,” Mr. Simai pledged shortly after being sworn in before President Mwinyi.
Cementing close relations between the government and tourism investors, spearheading the improvement of the quality of hospitality services provided to tourists and enforcing the concept of local content are just some of its priorities.
“My greatest interest is to see tourists consuming locally produced products. For me, it’s [an] effective mechanism for transferring money from tourists to the ordinary people of Zanzibar. You call it inclusive tourism,” Simai told eTurboNews in an exclusive interview.
The minister cited exploring new tourist markets and promoting new tourist attractions through diplomatic missions among the main areas he has focused on. Mr. Simai also plans to shift the focus from mass tourism to quality tourism as it targets wealthy visitors.
Tourism is an important source of income for Zanzibar being the largest foreign exchange earner, contributing around 27% of GDP and over 80% of Foreign Direct Investment (FDI). In 2020, Zanzibar received 528,425 tourists who brought the country a total of $426 million in foreign currency. Tourism accounted for 82.1% of FDI in Zanzibar, where an average of 10 new hotels were built each year at an average cost of $30 million each.
Data from the Hotel Association Zanzibar (HAZ) shows that the amount each tourist spends in Zanzibar has also increased from an average of $80 per day in 2015 to $206 in 2020.