Zanzibar is courting Indonesian businesses to invest in the island’s tourism industry.
Zanzibar President Ali Mohammed Shein said his government aims to attract 500,000 tourists annually by 2020 from Indonesia and other southeast Asian states.
President Shein visited Indonesia and invited investors to venture into seaweed cultivation, which accounts for about 24,000 jobs in Zanzibar.
Zanzibar is the world’s third-largest producer of seaweed, after Indonesia and the Philippines.
He said there is a plan to develop a marine-based economy based on the island’s rich Indian ocean resources.
The president said that his government is open to investors who can make the Isles into a business hub in East Africa.
“We will create an enabling environment for local and international companies to fulfil their investment ambitions without obstacles,” President Shein said.
With a population of about one million people, the Zanzibar economy depends on mostly tourism and international trade.
The island has been a target for high-class tourists, competing closely with the Vanilla Islands of Seychelles, Mauritius and the Maldives.
Tourism contributes more than 80 per cent of Zanzibar’s foreign-exchange earnings, and 27 per cent of its GDP.
According to the Zanzibar Association of Tourism Investors, tourism brought in $350 million in foreign exchange last year.
Zanzibar has at least 6,200 tourist hotel beds in six classes of accommodation.
Major gulf carriers like Emirates, Flydubai, Qatar Airways, Oman Air and Etihad have launched daily and weekly flights to Tanzania with connections to Zanzibar, propping up its tourism sector.
Egypt Air is set to launch direct flights between Cairo and Zanzibar. The airline’s vice president, Mohamed Alabbady, met President Shein in April to discuss plans to fly to Zanzibar.
President Shein said Zanzibar would benefit from direct flights between Cairo and the Isles.
He said although the region is rich in natural attractions, the number of international tourist arrivals is comparatively low.