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Zanzibar woos Indian tourists with cultural connect

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Sudipta DevMumbai

The recent visit of the president of Zanzibar to India, saw a renewed interest in the destination that very few people in the country know about, including the travel trade community. Leading travel industry professionals were invited at an event in Mumbai to create awareness about the attractions of Zanzibar for Indian travellers. An archipelago of two islands, Zanzibar is a semi autonomous part of Tanzania in East Africa. It is a destination that attracts tourists because of its rich heritage, but also takes great pride in its cosmopolitan culture. “The relationship between India and Zanzibar goes back to the 18th century. There was a lot of trade between the two nations, many Indian businessmen settled there. Our architecture and food is also influenced by India. Our culture is Swahili – which is a mix of African, Arabian and Indian culture,” said Salum K Nassor, executive director, Zanzibar Investment Promotion Authority (ZIPA). He believes that this connect will be a big draw for Indian visitors.

Known as the ‘Star of Africa’ , the ‘Spice Island’, Zanzibar is famous for its Stonetown which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. International tourism in Zanzibar has grown over the years. “We have flora, fauna, beaches and watersports. June to March is a good time to visit Zanzibar. It rains in April and May and many hotels are shut. We have an airport and seaport, and every two hours there are ferries to Dar es Salaam. International visitors also arrive in charter flights, particularly from Europe,” stated Nassor. One can visit Ngorongoro and Serengeti in two hours if one flies directly into Zanzibar. Ethiopian Airlines and Kenya Airways have direct flights to Zanzibar. Visitors from India can also go to Dar es Salaam by Air India, British Airways, Emirates, Turkish Airlines. There are 378 hotels in Zanzibar including DoubleTree by Hilton, Fairmont, Hyatt Group. The government of Zanzibar is interested in persuading the Oberoi Group to set up a property in there.