Tourism is indeed an important element in the economic development of each country and particularly of this Country as it contributes to about 25% of Gross Domestic Product, 70% of the Foreign Direct Investment Exchange. In addition, it employs about 15,000 people and another 45,000 people are involved in activities related to this sector. There is no doubt that it is a major component of the Tanzanian economy. I am pleased to emphasize that, although Italy is famous worldwide for its natural and historical attractions, over 36% of tourists in Zanzibar are Italians. This means that Zanzibar is obviously a place of unquestionable fascination. We therefore need to preserve not only Zanzibar’s environmental assets but also help overcome the inefficiencies that arise.
SPEECH BY H.E. THE AMBASSADOR OF ITALY
ON OCCASION OF THE ANNUAL DINNER OF THE
ZANZIBAR ASSOCIATION OF TOURISM INVESTORS (ZATI)
25TH February 2012
Members of the Board of the Zanzibar Association of Tourism Investors, distinguished members of the Zanzibar and Tanzanian Regional and District Authorities, distinguished guests, Ladies and Gentlemen, Italian friends
It is with great pleasure that I accepted the invitation to attend this gala evening and I wish to thank you for having given me the honor and opportunity to address you all.
The Zanzibar Association of Tourism Investors was established in 2003. It is an important forum where various problems of the tourism industry in Zanzibar can be voiced. It also provides a valuable contribution in developing the mutual cooperation with political Authorities in order to create a favorable investment environment and work towards an improved, sustainable and eco-friendly tourism.
Tourism is indeed an important element in the economic development of each country and particularly of this Country as it contributes to about 25% of Gross Domestic Product, 70% of the Foreign Direct Investment Exchange. In addition, it employs about 15,000 people and another 45,000 people are involved in activities related to this sector. There is no doubt that it is a major component of the Tanzanian economy.
I am pleased to emphasize that, although Italy is famous worldwide for its natural and historical attractions, over 36% of tourists in Zanzibar are Italians. This means that Zanzibar is obviously a place of unquestionable fascination. We therefore need to preserve not only Zanzibar’s environmental assets but also help overcome the inefficiencies that arise.
In this context, please allow me to make an appeal to address and find solutions to some issues and problems. I speak not only as a representative of the Italian Government in this Country but also on behalf of all the tourists who come to Zanzibar. I refer to some problems which I have personally been able to verify not only on the continent but also on this Island. I wish to mention in particular the security problems – not so much the recurring incidences of micro-criminality, which unfortunately are a global feature – but rather the lack of understanding on the part of the Police Authorities of the far more serious trend of armed robberies and attacks on holiday resorts. These affect the perception of tourists on the efficiency and the quality of security on the Island.
By definition, a tourist does not want to be distracted from his desire for relaxation and tranquility. The flight of tourists from Tunisia, Morocco, Egypt, Libya, the Maldives and Mauritius shows that security is one of the most important factors in the choice of a vacation destination.
If it is true that the major role of tourism on the Island is acknowledged at the political level, then the Political Authorities need to display greater attention to the security issues on this Island, also in consideration of the support that police regularly receive from ZATI members and investors. In fact, among other things, police posts and barracks have been built with this support and fuel for transport has been supplied.
There are other problems too that must be addressed seriously and solved so that Zanzibar can promote itself in the tourism market. This is especially true at a time when the choice of destinations has become more complex for tourists as a result of conflicts in many countries which were traditionally a major tourist attraction. The issues that need to be addressed are poor infrastructure such as the provision and distribution of electricity, the availability of water, the inefficiency of the port and airport (which, allow me to say, does not qualify as an international airport).
About 200,000 tourists a year arrive on Zanzibar’s beaches and to adequately accommodate this influx, Zanzibar needs to improve the level of its social services too or it will ultimately face the risk of defeat from competition to other tourist destinations.
I also feel that the structure of the bureaucracy and the pressure in the collection of tax revenues should be revised. In fact, it seems that the present structure damages rather than encourages the economic development of those who wish to invest in Zanzibar despite all.
The health sector too presents significant structural weaknesses. Through my frequent contacts with the medical staff involved in some of our cooperation projects, I have been able to appreciate the professional qualities and commitment of Zanzibari doctors and their generous contribution to alleviating the population’s health problems. However, that is not enough because the quality of human labor needs to be supported by structures, equipment and the best tools to handle illnesses and traumatic events. The foreign tourist on holiday in Zanzibar does not have a reliable point of reference where he or she can seek treatment in emergency situations and it is very often necessary to travel to Dar-es-Salaam. (This happened recently to an Italian tourist).
This too is an important element that is carefully evaluated when the choice of a vacation destination is made.
I also feel the obligation, with respect to the great religious traditions of the people of Zanzibar, to make an appeal to all tourists who come to this wonderful Island to remember that even while on vacation, the rules of good manners and mutual respect should not be forgotten. Being on vacation does not mean being allowed to dismiss the moral standards that one would be required to respect while living in his own nation or family environment. Being on vacation means certainly that you have the right to relax, to be at peace and to enjoy the culture, climate and beauty of the landscape.
However, in order to enjoy those rights, the Authorities of the host Country need to strive to improve those deficiencies that have already been mentioned in relation to security, infrastructure and social services. On the other hand, a tourist has the duty to respect Zanzibar, its culture and its ecosystem.
I hope that my words will be interpreted as an expression of a person who, in the performance of his work, has always given the utmost importance to the respect of others without any discrimination to race or religious belief.
In essence, it is important to respect one’s Government and Nation and to have the will to contribute to improving the lives of all with optimism and serenity.
I wish to thank you all for your patience during this long sermon and to wish you a pleasant evening. I say this with a little envy of those of you who wake up every morning to this beautiful sky and sea.