TANZANIA (eTN) – While Zanzibar is struggling to market its beach tourism through joint efforts with Tanzania mainland, the outgoing Zanzibar President Amani Abeid Karume has said tourism would not fall under the current political union between the semi-autonomous archipelago and Tanzania.
The Zanzibar president said tourism in the island was not a union matter, and the Zanzibar Business Council should stop faulting Tanzania’s diplomatic missions over their perceived failure to promote tourist attractions found in the Isles.
The Business Council members aired their misgivings to Karume, who also serves as the council’s chairman, saying the missions have persistently ignored Zanzibar when executing drives aimed at “selling” the country’s tourist attractions to the world.
In remarks at a ceremony in Zanzibar this week to bid him farewell, the outgoing Zanzibar President said: “Under the constitution, tourism is not a Union matter. Each side of the United Republic of Tanzania must, therefore, promote its respective tourist attractions independently in collaboration with diplomatic missions of its choice.”
He added that Tanzanian embassies or high commissions that had taken the trouble of promoting Zanzibar’s tourist attractions “have been doing us a favor.”
“What is of greater importance and relevance is for our own institutions engaged in activities linked to the tourism industry to prepare and issue quality promotional documents for the diplomatic mission to use in selling the [sles as a tourist destination of merit,” said Karume.
He also urged businesspeople from Zanzibar participating in international trade fairs to carry with them brochures and other documents meant to promote the isles’ tourism sector.
Mohammed Juma Abdallah of Safina Tours had earlier told the Zanzibar Business Council chairman that Zanzibar tourism had stagnated, leading to a fall in foreign exchange earnings, “mainly because Tanzanian ambassadors abroad have not been promoting it.”
He said Tanzania’s Embassy in France has been doing a commendable job promoting Tanzania mainland’s tourist attractions, including the Ngorongoro and Serengeti national parks, supported by the Tanzania National Parks (TANAPA).
“I once attended a trade fair in France in which the Tanzanian diplomatic mission took part, but I did not see any Zanzibar tourist attractions advertised. This is a problem which calls for an urgent and lasting solution,” noted Abdallah.
However, Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation deputy minister Seif Ali Iddi said it was the responsibility of every Tanzanian diplomatic mission to promote tourism for both the mainland and Zanzibar.
He said Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation was a Union matter “and the ministry has the role and duty of serving the whole of the United Republic of Tanzania.
“Zanzibar has as much right as the mainland of using our embassies, high commissions, and consulates to promote its tourist attractions. This applies even if it is such that tourism is not a Union matter,” said the deputy minister.
According to Zanzibar Tourism, Trade, and Investment minister Samia Suluhu Hassan, it is illegal for foreigners to operate as tour guides in the isles.
He said the isles government would descend on foreigners using locals to set up companies offering tour guide services on their behalf.
Zanzibar became part of the mainland way back in 1964 when Tanganyika (now mainland) and Zanzibar united to form the present Tanzania.
Tanzania mainland boasts of 15 protected national parks including Mount Kilimanjaro, Serengeti National Park, Ngorongoro Crater, and diversified tourist attractive sites including historical and cultural areas.
The combination of wildlife safaris and beach excursions complete most itineraries in Tanzania.