Zanzibar’s tourism industry makes huge comeback following COVID-19 devastation

  • Zanzibar’s tourism industry has recorded its most impressive figures since the COVID-19 lockdown. 
  • According to Zanzibar’s tourism report, the island nation welcomed 68,813 foreign visitors in January 2023.
  • The report also indicates that tourists from Europe still dominated the market, making up about 81.9% of all visitors.

According to a recent assessment, one of Africa’s most lucrative tourism zones, Zanzibar, has significantly recovered from pre-pandemic levels. The island nation’s tourism industry has recorded numbers larger than its pre-pandemic figures.

Said recent figures indicate that December had the most visits, with 66,720, followed by July (58,157), August (61,388), October (57,547), and November (55,150), with an average of 1502 persons accessing the island each day. According to the Tourism Statistical Release No 73, Zanzibar recorded 548,503 arrivals in 2022, compared to 538,264 in 2019.

According to the Tourism Statistical Release No 73, Zanzibar welcomed 68,813 foreign visitors in January 2023, with tourists from Italy outpacing visitors from Poland and Ukraine, who held the top spots in January 2022. This was the highest number of visitors Zanzibar has recorded since 2018 and also the highest monthly arrival in five years.

Other top 10 arrivals include Germany (4,634), Scandinavian nations (3,588), the United Kingdom (2,615), the Netherlands (2,293), the Czech Republic (1,858), and Kenya (1,698), which rose to the top of Africa in that order.


Simai Mohammed Sai, the minister of tourism and heritage for Zanzibar, noted that the early recovery of the industry was greatly aided by Tanzania's conscious decision not to lock down the nation. “We remained open as other parts of the world went into forced lockdowns, all we needed was to fulfill the airline requirements of having a PCR and at arrival, we only tested for temperature,” the minister stated.

The minister disclosed that the decision to leave its borders open, while other countries shut down theirs for fear of spreading the Covid-19 virus, eventually became a blessing in disguise. In his opinion, the move stirred curiosity as everyone wanted to know about Tanzania and Zanzibar in particular, despite receiving negative press in global media.

He also noted that the improvement in data collecting at the points of entry, which are the airport and seaport is one reason for the growing numbers.

These numbers could be higher than that because visitors coming from Tanzania-Mainland considered as locals, yet some end up in five-star hotels where they even stay more than European visitors,” the minister disclosed.

Given that Zanzibar continues to be the most popular destination for people from the Mainland of Tanzania and East Africans who spend holidays like Easter and Christmas on the isles, he claimed that if these are taken into account, the sector could be significantly higher than the targeted 850,000 annual arrivals. In January 2023, tourists from Europe still dominated the market, making up about 81.9% of all visitors.



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