November 15, 2004

Zanzibar to discourage mass tourism

The Zanzibar government will discourage mass tourism to conserve the environment and ensure a steady flow of tourists to the Isles. "We have realised that this kind of tourism isn't good for our environment and our economy. You have more tourists who at the end of the day pay very little for their stay, bringing in revenue not commensurate with their numbers," said the Zanzibar Minister for Trade, Industry, Marketing and Tourism, Mussa A. Silima.

The islands receive about 100.000 tourists annually. The travel market brought together more than 100 countries from around the world to showcase the tourism potential existing in their respective countries. As Silima stressed, "we have come to realise that if we don't take steps now to redress this situation, there will be a negative impact on the environment, because of having more tourists paying very little in hotels that aren't of five-star standard, but which at the same damage the environment." He said revenue from such tourists fell short of what was needed to repair or conserve the environment. "When we invited the private sector to invest in the industry, little did we know that such a problem would arise. However, we must now bring to a minimum the number of uncategorised hotels and encourage investors to build five-star hotels," he said.

Peter Mwenguo, the managing director of the Tanzania Tourist Board (TTB) said that although mainland Tanzania did not have a problem of mass tourism, it was collaborating with the authorities on the Isles to address the trend. "TTB is working with the Tourism Commission in Zanzibar so that we can synchronise our tourism policies," said Mwenguo. "It is the unspoilt nature that tourists come to see and if mass tourism is allowed to continue, the whole country which stands to lose." An investor in the tourism industry in Zanzibar, Adriano Fusillo, said what worried him was the lack of unity among stakeholders, as regards discouraging mass tourism. (The East African, Nairobi)

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