ZANZIBAR’S government has assured the international community and other stakeholders within the country that the semi-autonomous islands are still open for business and ready to welcome visitors from around the world.
The declaration is made in advance of the “Green Season,” when the government has promised all visitors that the archipelago is free of the Marburg Virus Disease (MVD), for which they have not yet recorded any cases.
“Green Season” is a safari industry term for a specific period in Africa that falls within the warm, rainy months.
A statement issued by the Zanzibar Ministry of Tourism and Heritage stated that since the lifting of Covid-19 restrictions, the archipelago has seen an influx of visitors from the United States of America and the Middle East, as well as those from its core European markets.
“It is anticipated that this trend will continue in the coming months and throughout the summer,” the statement reads in part.
It further stated that, while the US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention have recommended travellers to avoid contact with sick individuals and monitor any potential symptoms, they have not advised against travelling to Tanzania and Zanzibar.
Furthermore, it is important to understand that the Islands of Zanzibar are located in the warm waters of the Indian Ocean, separated by at least 1,588 km of ocean and land between the islands and the Kagera Region on the mainland. As such, it poses no risk of infection.
“While Tanzania and Zanzibar are monitoring the situation closely, there is absolutely no cause for alarm,” said Tourism Minister Simai Mohammed Said.
He added, “Given that Covid-19 is still fresh in our minds, we understand that people are cautious when learning of new infections. However, such fears are often unfounded, as is the case now. Tanzania is adhering to the World Health Organisation (WHO) standards and people have no reason to worry.”
Mr Said said members of the international business community and those visiting the region and islands can rest assured that it is very much business as usual and their health is in no way at risk from the virus. “In the next few weeks, Tanzania should be free from MVD,” he affirmed.
Findings by Tanzania’s Ministry of Health in collaboration with WHO show that as of April 4, 2023, the total number of remaining MVD cases in Kagera region was three, of which only two remain in isolation after one person was discharged on April 5, 2023.
This is further evidence that the spread of the virus has been contained. As we prepare to welcome our annual influx of visitors from the Northern Hemisphere and the Middle East, they can be safe in the knowledge that the virus is contained and presents no threat to them or the people of Zanzibar,” Mr Said remarked.
Meanwhile, Tanzania has deployed rapid response teams for the purposes of contact tracing and monitoring risk communication activities, measures that are proving highly successful in limiting the spread of the virus in Karega Region.
Zanzibar is set for a bumper tourist season, with the country already welcoming 65,430 international visitors in February–an increase of 39.2 per cent on the 46,995 visitors recorded in February 2022.