(eTN) – Reacting to recent incidents in which four tourists were mugged in the Tanzanian capital city of Dar es Salaam and the political stalemate in the Indian Ocean tourist Island of Zanzibar, Tanzania has beefed up security in key tourist spots.
Two separate incidents were observed in Tanzania recently in which four tourists were mugged of several items when walking on different streets in Tanzania’s capital city, while in Zanzibar, a group of vagabond youths torched down churches and threatened to burn beer groceries and bars where tourists take their time to drink.
In reaction to these incidents, Tanzania government, through the Tourism Ministry had intensified security in key tourist spots including hotels in both the mainland and the tourist island of Zanzibar.
Tanzania’s Deputy Tourism Minister Mr. Lazaro Nyalandu said the two incidents had shocked the government as were his ministry and other tourist stakeholders, taking into account that Tanzania had remained a peaceful tourist destination for years, without such ugly incidents targeting tourists.
“We are sorry that such ugly incidents happened here, as we cherish our peaceful environment to the tourists visiting Tanzania, but we assure visitors in Dar es Salaam of safe passage and [a] very comfortable stay,” he told eTN Wednesday.
“The government of Tanzania reiterates its commitment in assuring tourists visiting Tanzania of their security, while legal measures have been taken to those found taking part in causing recent chaos in Zanzibar,” Mr. Nyalandu said.
He admitted that four tourists were robbed while walking along streets in the capital of Dar es Salaam. Tanzania hotel stakeholders wrote a letter to the government of Tanzania asking for security support near key tourist hotels.
It was reported that tourists whose nationalities were not immediately known were mugged while strolling on roads near Southern Sun Hotel in Dar es Salaam’s central business district, while others were robbed outside Sea Cliff Hotel, about seven kilometers from the city center.
Mr. Nyalandu said police patrols have been introduced in all areas where tourists stroll, as are the Indian Ocean beaches, adding that Tanzania remains a safe destination to pay a visit.
In Zanzibar, tourists have been reported safe despite recent political unrest , during which several Christian churches were torched down by an anti-union of Tanzania radicals.
There have been a few demonstrations resulting in violence and destruction in and around Stone Town and Amani Stadium on the island of Zanzibar.
Tires have been burned in the streets, and there has been some violence and destruction of property, including two churches. Violence has not been targeted towards tourists.
British Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) issued an advisory statement, cautioning British tourists visiting Zanzibar to be cautious in the places hit by violence, telling them to keep away. About 70,000 Britons visit Tanzania mainland and Zanzibar every year, making UK the leading source of tourists visiting this African destination each year.
Hundreds of supporters of a separatist Islamist group set fire to two churches and clashed with police during protests in Zanzibar last weekend against the arrest of senior members of the Awakening movement, police said.
Police accused the Awakening group of ordering its supporters on to the streets to protest the union of Tanzania made up in 1964 and which made Zanzibar part of Tanzania.
Sources from Zanzibar’s tourist beaches of Nungwi, Kizimkazi, and the historical site of Stone Town told eTN that tourists and other foreign visitors to the semi-autonomous island were not targeted.
Tourism is currently the leading source of revenue to Zanzibar’s economy, injecting 27 percent to the isle’s gross domestic product (GDP), while generating 72 percent of the isle’s foreign currency, while providing key jobs in its sprawling hotels and other tourist establishments there.
Pristine sand beaches, deep water diving, unique and rich multi-racial cultures, and historical sites, all make Zanzibar the leading tourist hot-spot in the East African Indian Ocean zone. About 200,000 tourists visited the island last year.
The island has seen a remarkable growth in tourism, with optimism to attract more holidaymakers there. Zanzibar is famous for its beaches, deep-sea fishing, scuba diving, and dolphin watching, targeting to attract high-class tourists to compete with other Indian Ocean island destinations, such as Seychelles, Mauritius, La Reunion, and Maldives.