Mumbai: Zanzibar, the semi-autonomous island region of Tanzania, launched their 2019 promotional campaign in India in November. Led by Mahmoud Thabit Kombo, Minister for Tourism, Information and Heritage, the delegation consisting Dr. Kheri O Goloka, Health Attache, Tanzania High Commission, New Delhi and Jilesh Babla, Head, Zanzibar Tourism Promotion Centre (India) met with travel trade and media representatives in Mumbai, New Delhi, Chennai and Hyderabad.
The Zanzibar Archipelago in the Indian Ocean, few kilometres off the coast of the East African mainland, consists of many small islands and two large ones: Unguja (the main island, referred to informally as Zanzibar) and Pemba Island. The capital is Zanzibar City, located in Unguja with its historic centre, Stone Town, a UNESCO® World Heritage Site.
Though Seychelles and Mauritius also in the Indian Ocean are well known in India for their beach products and wedding & honeymoon tourism, Zanzibar has never hit the radar. Concurred Minister Kombo, “We have to create huge awareness for Zanzibar. More Tanzanians travel to India than Indians visit our country. Only 4000 Indians arrived in Zanzibar last year. This is when Italy send 200,000 visitors!”
India and Tanzania have connections dating back hundreds of years. Four generations of Gujaratis have been living harmoniously in Tanzania, a predominantly Muslim country. Many Goan communities are also present. The Mandir Street in capital city Dar es Salaam has 18 Hindu temples. Zanzibar was ruled by the Portuguese, Sultanate of Oman and the British. They credit Indians for introducing them to spices.
Today it is also called ‘Spices Island’. Indian spices like cinnamon, cardamom, nutmeg, cloves and black pepper are grown and used extensively in their cuisine. Biryani is the national dish and many Indian culinary favorites like chicken tikka and chicken tandoori are prepared widely. Lassi is a hot favorite too. So Indians particular about their food habits will feel at home in Zanzibar.
“We have spoken to all five airlines connecting India and Tanzania – Emirates, Oman Air, Ethiopian Airways, Fly Dubai and Air Tanzania. We will soon announce a special package,” said Minister Kombo. “Air Tanzania will commence direct flights from Dar es Salaam to Mumbai in December 2018. Zanzibar is a 15-minute flight from Dar es Salaam or a short ferry ride. For Indians, visa is on arrival and costs $50.
Zanzibar has till now focused on the European market where it’s a familiar presence at international travel fairs like ITB Berlin and WTM London. “We have not been present in travel shows in India or for that matter Asia. From 2019 onwards we will market ourselves aggressively in India”, said Minister Kombo.
In October this year at the Zanzibar Tourism Show (ZTS 2018), ten travel companies from India participated. Travel industry veterans Rajiv Duggal and Iqbal Mulla of Global Tourism Council (GTC) and Sheldon Santwan, COO, Saffron Synergies, a travel trade publisher, have been appointed as advisors for the India market.
Zanzibar will focus on promoting Wedding & Honeymoon and MICE packages in India. It is also exploring opportunities to invite Bollywood to shoot in Zanzibar as a means to promote the destination.
On the south coast of Zanzibar lies the Menai Bay Conservation Area, a sea turtle protection zone for the endangered species that come to breed on the island. Roads to the southeast coast take visitors through the Jozani Forest, home to Zanzibar’s rare Red Colobus monkeys. The archipelago is also home to mops (bats), dolphins and the Zanzibar servaline genet. It’s a paradise for divers and snorkelers who can spot up to 549 species of fish in the Menai Bay Conservation Area.
The major source markets for Zanzibar Tourism are Italy, Spain, Germany and the UK. FTAs totaled half a million in 2017. “We have 10,000 rooms across 476 hotels in the price band of $50 to $2800 a night. There are many international hospitality brands including Park Hyatt, Double Tree by Hilton, Melia and Golden Tulip, among others.”
Zanzibar also has an impressive line up of festivals. Sauti za Busara music festival is by far the biggest and most renowned festival. Zanzibar International Film Festival (ZIFF) now in its 22nd year has had even screening of Indian films. The Jahazi Literary & Jazz Festival is a favourite among the well read and those with a fine taste for music.
Night life on the islands is nothing short of rocking with the Full Moon parties highly spoken about by revelers. There are four night clubs and in addition to that every hotel/resort on the east and north coast have their own late night programs for in-house guests where mostly outsiders are not allowed.