Tourism is a double-edged sword for island paradise Zanzibar
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Tourism in Zanzibar is welcomed with open arms. A small, tropical island off the East Coast of Africa, Zanzibar is a haven for tourists all over the world. Its broad stretches of white sand beaches, quaint yet historically rich capital Stone Town and bustling small-town charm has seen tourist numbers double from 150,000 to 376,000 in just 10 years. And there’s no surprise for such a stark increase in its popularity. It’s tiny, zig-zagging streets are filled with romance and nostalgia; its resort-lined beaches are secret getaways for tired businessmen and joyous newlyweds; and its markets are chock full of spicy surprises and local delicacies. And as much as tourists love visiting the island, the locals love hosting them. It’s no secret that tourism is a huge driving force in the Zanzibari economy; its largest economic sector is not only essential for maintaining socio-economic stability, but also as a tool to boost employment, particularly in the private sector. Zanzibar’s government over the years have been slowly trying to enhance the positive effects of tourism in different economic sectors. Youth employment, poverty reduction, transport, and technology are some of the major industries that officials believe tourism should contribute towards. However, while it all seems rather idyllic on the surface, the reality is much more complex. Undeniably tourism brings in a welcome economic boost, but the huge increase in tourist numbers has begun to put a strain on the island’s resources, facilities, and its natural surrounding environment. Areas particularly at risk are clean water supplies, waste management and disposal, and maintaining the cleanliness of Zanzibari beaches.
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