THE beautiful island of Zanzibar, known for its beaches and rich heritage, is still a new holiday destination among Malaysians.
Zanzibar Information Tourism and Heritage Minister Mahmoud Thabit Kombo said according to statistics, the total number of Malaysians visiting Zanzibar in 2017 did not even reach 320.
“Malaysians have been travelling to all parts of the world but they have skipped Zanzibar.
“We realised that we have never taken the initiative to spread the word and promote our beautiful Zanzibar to Malaysians.
“This is why we are here today,” said Mahmoud Thabit with regards to the Zanzibar delegation visiting Malaysia.
He explained that Zanzibar was an all-year-round destination with warm seasons, plenty of greenery and diverse attractions as well as its hospitable people.
With a 95% Muslim majority, the country’s population stands at 1.3 million.
Malaysian Association of Tour and Travel Agents (MATTA) vice-president Cynthia Tan Bee Sim said MATTA consistently holds overseas promotions, including engagement with many international organisations and foreign embassies for potential tourism exchange.
She added this was to help create awareness of new products and also present more business opportunities for its members.
“This cooperation between MATTA and Zanzibar is to promote tourist arrivals in both countries.
“It will help open the doors to Malaysian holidaymakers as we will come up with ideal holiday packages with Zanzibar and Tanzania representatives.
“Tourism players from Zanzibar are welcome to engage with MATTA members to promote their products as our travel agents and partners are keen to update their information in overall destinations and attractions.
“I know that Zanzibar has beautiful diving areas, and I hope all travel agents will include diving activities for Malaysians,” she added.
Abdullah Fahim Mohd Yazid, 24, who has been to Zanzibar twice, said he thoroughly enjoyed his stay there.
“This year alone I went to Zanzibar twice, and one particular trip was for two months.
“To me, Zanzibar feels like home because its culture, food and people are similar to ours.
“The hospitality was first class. For that reason, I visited Zanzibar again to celebrate Eid with them.
“Even the food is familiar to my palate as the people use mostly Indian spices just like here in Malaysia.
“I enjoyed the briyani there. They also have durian and rambutan.
“Mangoes in Zanzibar are huge and very sweet. It is almost impossible to get something almost similar to it in Malaysia,” said Fahmi.
Embassy of Tanzania in Malaysia first secretary Khatibu Makenga said Malaysians would not require a travel visa to visit Zanzibar unless they were visiting other parts of Africa first before going to Zanzibar.
Every February for the past decade, Zanzibar has hosted the popular and longest music festival in East Africa called Sauti za Busara (sound of the wisdom).