Italy plans to resume direct tourist flights to Zanzibar on June 29 more than two years after suspension due to the Coronavirus pandemic.
An official from the Italian Foreign Ministry Natalia Quintavalle made the revelation last week during talks with the Tanzanian Deputy Minister for Foreign Affairs and East African Cooperation, Mabrouk Nassor Mbarouk, in Dar-es-Salaam.
She said Italy was an important partner for Zanzibar in the tourism industry before the Covid-19 outbreak that led the European nations to suspend their flights to the isles.
Commenting on the news, Mbarouk said Italy’s decision to resume flights to Zanzibar would boost the islands’ economy, whose 30 percent of its gross domestic product (GDP) is independent of tourism.
The arrival of Italian tourists on the Zanzibar beaches has been warmly received by tourism actors, whose business was severely affected by the Covid-19 epidemic.
Mohammed Massoud, a handcrafter in the Zanzibar Stone Town, said the tourism industry would rise again, calling Italians as big spenders compared to others.
Ali Amour, a tour guide said the arrival of tourists from Italy is a great savior not only for investors and the government but also for service providers and citizens.
“Many hotels have been closed and those providing services are in shambles, but the arrival of the Italians will restore hopes that have been lost,” he said.
The Minister for Tourism and Heritages, Simai Mohammed Said described the reports as encouraging and comforting to Zanzibar and urged investors to be well prepared.
In 2019 Zanzibar received 538,264 international arrivals of whom 11.4 percent were Italians, an increase of 3.4 percent compared with 2018.
However, the figure dropped dramatically by more than half in 2020 with 212,050 tourists visiting the Indian Ocean islands.
The industry’s momentum dropped last year as 394,185 tourists traveled to Zanzibar with Russians making up 17.9 percent of all visitors during the period.
However, the ongoing war between Russia and its neighbor Ukraine has resulted in the decline of tourist arrivals from Europe, especially from the warring two nations.
In January 2022, 42,443 tourists visited Zanzibar which Poland and Ukraine made 15.4 percent and 13.1 percent respectively.
Tourist arrival in Zanzibar recorded 42,443 visitors in January 2022 compared with 49,868 visitors in January 2021 and 48,167 visitors in December 2021. Tourists from Europe continue to dominate the market by accounting for 83.0 percent of the total visitors in January 2022.
The “scramble for Africa,” it has been observed, not only influenced European diplomacy but was influenced by European alignments. British policy in Est Africa between 1885 and 1895 reflected a determination to maintain harmony with Germany, and cooperation with Italy in the same area was to a considerable degree related to the alienation between Great Britain and France after the occupation of Egypt.
As Britain and Italy drew together in Europe against a potential common threat in France, so did Britain warm toward Italian expansion in lands that were not deemed critical to major British interests. On the Red Sea littoral and its vicinity, changing European relationships contributed to a major shift in strategy. Until the 1880s it had been British policy to prevent any other European power from establishing a base in this vicinity which could be a threat to the route to India.
Italy was, at least for the time, a friendly neighbor, and the Italian presence could be useful as a counterweight to French schemes.
But Italy, particularly under a Crispi government was not content to accept the role that Britain assigned to her, and her ambitions in the direction of the upper Nile caused London considerable concern. It’s a short history of Italy and Africa.