(eTN) – The Indian Ocean tourist island of Zanzibar is looking at tourism as the isle’s leading economic sector and a leading employer to a half of the island’s workforce.
Zanzibar President Dr. Ali Mohamed Shein said tourism is the leading economic wheel for the island, with new hopes to see more tourists calling there for holidays.
He said the isle’s government would work closely with the private sector to improve marine transportation in order to improve the national economy through the tourism sector, which had see an annual growth of 15 percent and contributed between 25 and 27 percent to the isle’s gross domestic product (GDP).
Zanzibar president noted that 50 percent of the isle’s population would be involved in tourism activities by the year 2020, forecasting a robust growth of the sector in few years to come.
The tourism sector would be a major catalyst in the promotion of agriculture, employment, and fisheries and helping in creating more jobs in local industries.
The Zanzibar government has made a decision to give tourism its due importance in cooperation with the local people. So far, tourism is a source of Zanzibar’s foreign currency earnings by 70 percent.
Cruise shipping tourism is the other source of tourist income to Zanzibar due to the island’s geographical position with its proximity in the Indian Ocean island states of Seychelles, Mauritius, Madagascar, and Mombasa on the Kenyan coast.
Frequent Somali piracy on cruise ships had forced cruise ship companies to cancel Zanzibar activity along the Indian Ocean coasts, affecting Zanzibar’s beach tourism.
Zanzibar became a favorite port of call for an increasing number of global cruise operators five to ten years ago as a leading tourist destination, but recent fears over piracy have diverted the ships to other destinations.
Recent data by the Zanzibar Tourism Commission showed tourism to increasingly becoming a leading economic sector in the island, providing 11,500 workers with direct employment and an additional 45,000 people engaged in tourist activities.