Zanzibar now bans Italy flights as coronavirus fears takes toll

Saturday March 7 2020

 

By Frank Kimboy @frankkimboy

Dar es Salaam. The outbreak of Coronavirus infection has already adversely affected the hospitality and tourism industry of the economy as most of the would-be visitors have been forced to cancel their scheduled visit to the country.

This is basically due to fear of contracting the deadly virus on their way, compounded by foreign or travel bans imposed by their countries.

Meanwhile, Yesterday, the Government of Zanzibar banned visitors from Italy from entering the Isles for fear of the coronavirus malady.

The directive was issued by the Health minister, Mr Hamad Rashid. Several coronavirus cases have been reported in Italy.

The government has confirmed that quite a number of tourists, who were expected to arrive in the country during in the near future - and especially have cancelled their plans on the back of the c due to Coronavirus threat.

Speaking on the matter, the Deputy Minister at the Ministry of Tourism and Natural Resources, Mr Costantine Kanyasu, admitted that the coronavirus outbreak was bound to hit hard the tourism business, currently one of Tanzania’s leading foreign currenct earnersector.

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Mr Kanyasu, who did not disclose the figures, nonetheless said due to the fact that China has banned its nationals from travelling abroad as a measure to limit the spread of the disease, is a blow to Tanzania’s tourism sector.

The Permanent secretary at the ministry, of Tourism and Natural Resources Professor Adolf Mkenda, said if the coronavirus disaster isn’t be contained soon, it will seriously impact on tourism not only in Tanzania but also across of the world.

Prof Mkenda said Tanzania was set to participate in a tourism fair which was set to be held in Beijing later this year. But the organisers cancelled the event on accountit of  the outbreak of coronavirus.

Speaking in the Parliament in April 2019, Prime Minister Mr Kassim Majaliwa revealed that revenues from Tanzania’s tourism sector increased by 7.13 per cent in 2018 compared to 2017. This was largely thanks to considerable increase in arrivals from foreign visitors, the government disclosed. Tourism and hospitality revenues reached $2.43 billion in 2018 -, up from $2.19 billion in 2017 -, while the number of tourist arrivals totaled 1.49 million in 2018, compared with 1.33 million, in the previous year.

Tanzania’s Prime Minister Kassim Majaliwa said in a presentation to parliament.

However, hotel operators also claimed that the hospitality industry is bound to suffer due to the outbreak of coronavirus, which has already spread to about 51 countries across the world - with , China being the most affected so far.

Yesterday, the Revolution Government of Zanzibar has banned visitortourists from IIataly from entering the Isles for fear of due to the cbreakdown of Coronavirus malady.

Ms Nuralisa Karamagi of the Hotels Association of Tanzania (HAT) said the coronavirus outbreak which started in Wuhan, China, is already adversely impacting the travel and hospitality industry not only in Tanzania, but across the world.

For example, she said, that the total number of the would-be tourists, who had made provisional bookings to tour Tanzania during the summer  have declined significantly compared to the previoust year.

Ms Karamagi revealed that some of hotels have reported that a number of tourists , who had made provisional bookings in various hotels in the country ahead of summer, has dropped by between 40 per cent and 70 per cent compare to last year. This is undoubtedly on account of the corinavirus outbreak which was first reported in China towards the end of December 2019,

“The number of tourists, who had made provision bookings in the same period last year, the hotels have reported the number have dropped by between 40 per cent and 70 per cent due to Coronavirus threat,” said Ms Karamagi said.

To counter the adverse impact, Ms Karamagi said some hotels have been negotiating with prospective tourists those, who had already made travel-cum-hotel the bookings in Tanzania to push back their travelling schedules until the outbreak is effectively contained. She also advised the government and other stakeholders in the sector to do the same.

A former national chairman of the Tanzania Bbusiness Ccommunity, Mr Johnson Minja, said the outbreakdisease has also negatively affected trade in the Kariakoo and other major markets in different metropolises.

According to Mr Minja, importers have now shifted away from China and to India, Taiwan and Vietnam. However,Mr Minja said that the volumes of cargo imported from the three countries are small and more expensive compared to similar products imported from China.

 

“Currently there is already scarcity of commodities at the Kariakoo Central Market in Dar es Salaam because due to the fact that we aren’t importing much from China due to the coronavirus outbreak,” he said, adding that this is worrisome as the prices will rise if the disease isn’t effectively  contained ,” said Mr Minja.

Due to existing good travel links with China, Tanzania faces a risk of transmission of the coronavirus (code-named ‘COVID-19’), whose epicentre is the Chinese city, Wuhan. The disease has so far affected to 51 countries around the world, and killed more than 3,500 people, while more than 100,000 people have contracted the disease, says WHO.