Presidential hopeful vows to develop tourist paradise island of Zanzibar

TANZANIA (eTN) - Four months ahead of the general election in Tanzania, Zanzibar presidential hopeful, Seif Sharif Hamad, has vowed to raise the status of the sprawling tourist paradise island into a

Presidential hopeful vows to develop tourist paradise island of Zanzibar

TANZANIA (eTN) – Four months ahead of the general election in Tanzania, Zanzibar presidential hopeful, Seif Sharif Hamad, has vowed to raise the status of the sprawling tourist paradise island into a competitive edge among other island states of the Indian Ocean.

The outspoken politician from the opposition Civic United Front (CUF) party said he will construct an international airport to attract more international airlines to land in the island as a means to attract more tourists and aviation business.

He said at a political rally that he has been looking at turning the semi-autonomous archipelago into a free port to attract more foreign investments to compete with other rich island states in the world.

“We are going to open Zanzibar economically by declaring the whole island a free port, attract investors, create jobs for all Zanzibaris regardless of age, and we must bury any discrimination,” Seif said, and vowed to improve infrastructure in the island, come the October general election this year which he stands confident to win the post.

His comments are a series of political campaigns to make the paradise tourist island of Zanzibar a free state out of the current union with mainland Tanzania. This would turn this Indian Ocean island into a free state with its own autonomous president and recognition at international diplomatic institutions including the United Nations.

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Politicians from both the opposition camp and the ruling Chama Cha Mapinduzi party have been airing their concerns over powers endowed to the current president of the island, which they say are limited before the union president in the capital city of Dar es Salaam.

Pundits in the island’s political arena are envious of milestone developments achieved by some island states in various economic areas including tourism. They want to see Zanzibar competing with Seychelles, Mauritius, La Reunion, and the Maldives in tourism, and with Singapore, Hong Kong, and Dubai in trade and investments.

With a population of about 900,000 people, Zanzibar is a tourist destination, attracting international-class tourists who flock to the warm tropical beaches to enjoy the African sun, watching dolphins and taking the time to go scuba diving.

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.

But pundits in politics are pointing fingers at the Tanzanian government over unequal distribution of wealth between the two sides of the union, saying corruption and mismanagement of resources under the Tanzanian government have caused mass poverty among the Zanzibar people.

They see the 1964 union between this island and the mainland Tanzania at the entire affair as the Biblical theory of David and Goliath. They claim that the mainland, which is richer simply by virtue of its size, also has more natural resources than the island.

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