Problems facing tourism in Africa

Background

On a global scale, the economic sector experiencing expedited growth is tourism. In the developing world, tourism industry exhibits great success as a chief foreign exchange earner, stimulating cross cultural understanding and providing employment. This may not be a uniform case in Africa. In Zanzibar Tanzania, for instance, the economic gain of tourism is yet to be fully realized. This has been occasioned by a major tourism management problem of insecurity.

Threats to safety and security of the tourism sector in Zanzibar has affected the growth of tourism industry and subsequently impacted the environment, the economy and the social fabric at large. As such, foreigners who visit this destination to enjoy the beautiful sceneries become easy prey to criminals. Besides, the opportunities to economically benefits that would have been experienced from tourism have thwarted due to insecurity (Rosenbaum, 2011, March 13).

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However, these problems facing tourism sector can be given an appropriate approach, proper strategies and careful thinking to reach a solution. This essay will explore the issue of insecurity resulting from as a problem facing tourism in Zanzibar, and suggest possible solutions.

Tourism Planning and management problem in Zanzibar

Zanzibar attractions

Zanzibar Island also referred to as Unguja is an interesting and enchanting island that links the past history when explorers interacted with the coastal people and the present bliss of beach holidays (Sifuna, 2010). It blends the way of life of travelers from the West and the Far East who come to enjoy wildlife safari, with the fascinating life of the local people.

One of the most important attractions is the Stone Town located on the west coast of Zanzibar. Apart from being an awesome town, it bears the history and diverse cultures of the people of Unguja, museums which were formerly palaces, an Omani fortress built in the 18th century and many other attractions (Foottit, 1995, January).

Additionally, tourists who visit the south coast are treated to other attractions such as viewing and swimming with Dolphins during Dolphin tours, the coral reefs and large sandy Indian Ocean coastline with offshore locations such as mafia and Pemba. Also, the island has the sleepy fishing community, a variety of wildlife, salt-tolerant grassland, Casuarinas and coconut palm trees, mangroves, ever-green thicket and swamp forests (Amanda, 2009, March 29).

Moreover, it has beautiful beaches such as Matemwe, Pwani Mchangani, Kiwengwa, Pongwe, Uroa and Chwaka where many activities take place including snorkeling, water sports, sailing and reef walks (Amanda, 2009, March 29).

To begin with, one important threat to the security of tourism in Zanzibar is fear of terrorist’s attacks. In 1998, Tanzania suffered a severe blow from bombing of US embassy in the country.

As such, the number of tourist visiting tourist sites in Zanzibar and other areas in the region sharply declined. It is important to underscore the fact that tourists’ develop confidence in a region depending on the level of security. As such, the tourism sector in the region has continued to face the difficult challenge posed by threats of insecurity.

Even though security officials and the Zanzibar police officers have continued to issue alerts and offer protection to citizens, tourists and the tourism sector continues to fear for safety of imminent attacks from terror groups. Importantly, acts of terrorism results into destructions whose impacts weighs heavily on the environment and economy of the land as well as tourism

Additionally, tourism industry in Zanzibar is faced with the problem of offering security to tourists from indiscriminate attacks coming from locals. Reports have indicated that local residents have developed a habit of invading areas where tourist have gathered with ulterior motives.

Also, tourists face danger of attack while travelling to tourist destinations or even when they attend political rallies. Other similar attacks come from demonstrators who attract violence and this may spread to areas where tourists are visiting. The tourism sector lacks proper security vigilance and measures to protect tourists and the environment from such attacks.

Another important issue that threatens the security of tourism industry is the traditional values held buy the locals that don’t agree with that of the foreigners. It is important to observe that a greater percentage of people in Zanzibar are Muslims. The laws followed by the Muslims don’t allow immodest dressing among the women.

Tourist visiting the area faces a security threat of harassment by the locals if immodestly dressed. Accordingly, the tourist management body faces a challenge of protecting its image as well as that of tourists. It endeavors to inform tourists not to be intemperate in their way of dressing and conduct.

In Tanzania, Zanzibar has its own border controls in its main islands of Unguja and Pemba, a parliament and a decentralized status. Its developed tourist’s attractions attract over 90% of tourists and this drives up the economy of that land. However, Zanzibar has seen a drop in the number of visits by the tourists in the past decade due to political conflicts (Mills et al., 2006).

Widespread instability has been triggered by political conflicts raging in the island and these have delayed investments as investors have been forced to wait and watch until there is stability. The burgeoning tourist trade that has been thriving in Zanzibar faces the challenge of getting damaged due to post election violence and eventual political stand-offs (Gettleman, 2010, November 1).

The process of easing political tensions through peace agreements in Zanzibar State House between political leaders of CCM and CUF have been carried out and sometimes failed to achieve results (Kaur et al., 2011). Some of the issues that cause political instability are election irregularities, slow count of votes, a poor electoral system and unequal media coverage to all political parties (Kaur et al., 2011).

Being a young democracy and dependant on tourism to gain economic stability, the insecurity political wrangles pose on tourism industry lowers the potential of the industry by scaring away tourists and investors (Foottit, 1995, January).

Issues of insecurity stemming from political instability and violence during general elections realized in areas such as Pemba and Zanzibar lead to fall in numbers of arrival of tourists in the region.

The insecurity that was caused following terrorist attack on US embassy in the country resulted in a sharp decline in tourist arrivals due to less confidence tourist had for the regions’ security (Amanda, 2009, March 29). Additionally, another factor that played a role in reducing the figures is the adjustments in terms of calculations on the number of tourists to visit the country that the government had made.

This was done by the president who thought that a huge number of tourists would pose security threats to the country. These adjustments were done in the year 2000 and so weakened the strength of flow of tourists in the country than it had experienced earlier (Foottit, 1995, January).

On the issue of tourism and economy, the industry provides the economy with revenue which is much needed (Rosenbaum, 2011, March 13). It is important to note that the economy of this country relies on agriculture. However, the failure of agriculture and its production to earn enough foreign exchange and speed up the growth of the economy puts the serious issue of the need to improve tourism sector in the country as a priority (Gettleman, 2010, November 1; Sifuna, 2010; Jowit, 2010, September 21).

Insecurity in the region affects the tourism sector which depends on over 90% of tourists who visit and earn them foreign exchange, and the growing of spices which make Zanzibar the second largest exporters of spices in the world (Rosenbaum, 2011, March 13; Gettleman, 2010, November 1).

Planning and management solutions

The tourism sector in this country needs to make some planning and development improvements to realize the potential in the industry and achieve its goals. Some of the findings that are necessary for planning and management require techniques encompassed in a conceptual scope which to the concept of tourism does a phenomenological research (Mills et al., 2006).

The solution to mentioned management and planning problem of tourism in Zanzibar can be tackled through a strategy set to cultivate and integrate peace, security and understanding in the region.

To begin with, there is a need to reinvigorate in Zanzibar the establishment of a new strategy for development, security, and peace (Foottit, 1995, January). Tourism, which is a sector that drives the economy of the region, can be saved through creation of conflict prevention mechanism that will resolve conflicts through management, planning and resolution actions (Rosenbaum, 2011, March 13).

There is need for the government and other tourism agencies in Zanzibar to create integration among leaders of the different parties, promote cooperation, create awareness on the importance of respect for human rights, better democratic governance and a desirable political culture that fosters peace and development (Mills et al., 2006).

For greater good and development of tourism industry, the tourism industry in Zanzibar should seek high security for the tourists. Tourist visiting the beaches along the coasts of that region should be offered adequate security escort to curb instances of armed bandit attacks (Mills et al., 2006). Additionally, tourist management should come up with methods and ways of informing the tourists the need to exercise caution and protect themselves against indiscriminate attacks.

Moreover, to deal with issues related to culture and traditions of the Muslims, the management should plan to integrate the western culture with the local way of life so as to create a balance and to minimize instances of rebellion and violence resulting from intemperate behaviors (Mills et al., 2006; Amanda, 2009, March 29). The significant act of offering security will build the confidence of investors and tourist who visit the region (Amanda, 2009, March 29).

Also, proper marketing strategy to attract tourists from other nations should be fostered to counter sharp decline in the flow of tourists in the region due to political problems affecting peace in Tanzania evidenced by the violent clashes in Zanzibar as a result of disputed elections, and the repercussions of terrorists’ bombings (Amanda, 2009, March 29; Sifuna, 2010). Tourists should be guaranteed efficient security and the government should play its role of ensuring peace (Hudson & Lee, 2010; Mills et al., 2006).

Accordingly, a strategy should be made by the tourism sector management and the government to increase the immense potential and strength and gains of tourism in Zanzibar through good governance, creativity, inclusiveness, tolerance and harmony (Mills et al., 2006; Amanda, 2009, March 29).

Besides, equipped with the idea that peace is not mere absence of war, they should foster peace and security through determination and resilience, fair utilization of resources and transparency (Jackman, 2010, November 6; Rosenbaum, 2011, March 13).

References

Amanda, J. (2009, March 29). AFRICA; A new safari game plan; Adventurous? Venture into the civilized wilds of luxury camps and lodges in Botswana, Namibia and Zambia. Los Angeles Times, p. L.4. Retrieved from Los Angeles Times.

Foottit, C. (1995, January). Tanzania goes for quality. African Business, (195), 40. Retrieved from ABI/INFORM Global.

Gettleman, J. (2010, November 1). Splitting the wilderness in two: Plan for road in Serengeti pits Tanzanian officials against conservationists. International Herald Tribune,2. Retrieved from ProQuest Newsstand.

Hudson, K., & Lee, D. (2010). Biodiversity and Tourism: A valuable relationship. Social Alternatives, 29(3), 39-43. Retrieved from Research Library.

Jackman, B. (2010, November 6). Open to the African elements: Brian Jackman is in awe of a safari park in the heart of Kenya’s Rift Valley. The Daily Telegraph, 8. Retrieved from ProQuest Newsstand.

Jowit, J. (2010, September 21). Front: On the move … but for how much longer? Road plan threatens Serengeti migration: Herds could be blocked from feeding grounds Scientists say entire ecosystem at risk. The Guardian, 3. Retrieved from ProQuest Newsstand.

Kaur, T. et al. (2011). Campylobacter troglodytis sp. nov., Isolated from Feces of Human-Habituated Wild Chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes schweinfurthii) in Tanzania. Applied and Environmental Microbiology, 77(7), 2366. Retrieved June 7, 2011, from Research Library.

Mills, A. et al. (2006). Managing small populations in practice: black rhino Diceros bicornis michaeli in the Ngorongoro Crater, Tanzania. Oryx, 40(3), 319-323. Retrieved June 7, 2011, from ProQuest Biology Journals.

Rosenbaum, E. (2011, March 13). The Serengeti: The Tanzania food chain up close and personal. Chicago Tribune, p. 5.5. Retrieved from Chicago Tribune.

Sifuna, N. (2010). Community-Based Natural Resource Management: Suitability and Effectiveness. Environmental Policy and Law, 40(4), 172-178. Retrieved from ABI/INFORM Global.