Zanzibar Tourism: Security Reform

With tourism numbers in Zanzibar growing year-on-year since the 1990’s, the Zanzibar Association of Tourism Investors (ZATI), has been working with Government, tourism stakeholders and community partners to improve the economic and investment climate of the islands, and develop a robust tourism product for all.

Zanzibar’s unique mix of a rich historical and cultural identity, framed by picture-postcard tropical beaches, has been responsible for the destination rising above its mainland Africa and Indian Ocean competitors to become one of the most celebrated destinations in the world.

Tourism contributes significantly to Zanzibar’s economy; the projections by the Zanzibar Commission for Tourism (ZTC) are for 500,000 tourist arrivals per annum in 2013. Total employment in the tourism industry is estimated at 10,500 people in direct activities and over 40,000 people indirectly. The sector contributes about 42% of Zanzibar’s GDP, 70% of foreign direct investment and about 80% in Government revenues.

However, there are growing concerns that the main challenge to the development and expansion of tourism in Zanzibar is insecurity. The reality for Zanzibar is that crime and harassment against tourists are components of the broader issue of visitor safety and security that threaten the integrity of the tourism product and ultimately, the overall economic viability of the islands.

High-profile security incidents earlier in the year created and inflated negative public perception (of crime through the media, foreign embassy cautionary notes, and travel and hospitality agents outside the islands) that crime against visitors in Zanzibar is on the rise and the destination is not as safe as it once was.

With security one of the principle considerations when choosing a holiday destination, ZATI believe it is time to work with Government to consolidate and strengthen the islands legal and policy framework to safeguard visitors and ensure that the judicial response is appropriate to a visitor’s needs and expectations.

In partnership with Business Environment Strengthening Tanzania (Best-AC) an EU-funded programme for the capacity building and advocacy needs of Private Sector Organisations (PSO’s) in Tanzania, ZATI has worked with specialist consultants to review the present judiciary framework and principles that govern tourism-related court procedures in Zanzibar. The goal is to urge the Government to implement a safety and security strategy that will improve the legislative system - and enhance the image of Zanzibar as a premier tourist destination.

There have been a series of consultative meetings held around the island from August 2013 through to December, in order to collect opinions and experiences from stakeholder groups drawn from the tourism industry, community partners, government agencies and legal advisors, so as to identify specific opportunities and priority constraints within the existing legal framework.

These interviews form the basis of a detailed report, currently underway, which seeks to improve the existing legislative systems and expedite the timely prosecution of tourism-related cases, so as to cement Zanzibar’s reputation as a safe and friendly destination.

As an end-game to the process, ZATI aims to build consensus amongst the main public and private sector stakeholders as to the strategic direction for the tourism sector, and the priority steps required for achieving growth, to the benefit of all of the people on the islands of Zanzibar.

The final report, entitled Review of Legal and Policy Framework for Safety and Security on Zanzibar was published in mid-February 2014, and a press conference was held to share its findings and proposals with the general public.

Source: ETourboNews