Zanzibar to many tourists like me has always been a unique Swahili island with its one-of-a-kind cultural richness and heavenly peaceful tropical sceneries. Zanzibar consists of two large islands, Unguja and Pemba, and many small islands. However behind the booming touristy scenes there are obviously unknown stories and issues arising along. A Unicef report was published in January this year after a nine-month assessment was organised and conducted between October 2017 and June 2018 in Zanzibar to investigate the impact of tourism on children and communities in Zanzibar.
You can find the original report here: UNICEF REPORT: Impact of Tourism on Children and Communities in Zanzibar
The report is said to be recommended for tourism stakeholders on opportunities and avoiding risks for children. However I find it also nice for general public who like to travel to read as the report points out the commonly neglected impact of tourism on people especially children and teenagers in specific regions. I believe such awareness is worth raising for international tourists too in order to contribute to a healthier development of the tourism industry in specific regions like Zanzibar.
As expected, the growing tourism business in Zanzibar has contributed greatly to local economic growth with an average annual GDP growth of 7%. However there is still a significant difference in poverty rate among different areas in Zanzibar. Residents in Unguja generally have a much better financial condition compared to those from Pemba which is a much less popular tourist destination compared to Unguja island where most signature Zanzibar attractions are located.
Figures 2 and 3 really caught my attention. They listed some data comparing the origins of staff and the differences in payment per origin. It’s interesting to know that there is still such a big percentage of tourism staff in Zanzibar are actually from mainland Tanzania even though the percentage has dropped over the years. The reason behind was not explained in the report but I assume it relates to the unevenness of educational resources between mainland Tanzania and Zanzibar. However the drop in percentage is a really good sign implying that more and more qualified employees are from Zanzibar nowadays. Full-time staff from mainland Tanzania are found to have a slightly higher income on average, which makes sense to me because the living costs are usually higher for those who have to relocate for work.
According to the figures provided in the report, we can see that the sample size is around 455. However no detailed background information about the samples was provided in the report, which brings doubts to me. The interviewees’ profiles must vary significantly depending on where they work, what educational background they have, what position they work in, etc. I personally have noticed that it is not difficult to see children under 18 years old working in tourism when I visited in Zanzibar for a few times.In Figure 7, only 5% of the interviewees declare to know about children under 18 working in tourism. What about the children who sell souvenirs on the beaches and in stone town? Many doubts like that came to mind since the report is not detailed enough in explaining how the research was done.
Overall, I find this a meaning report to help tourism stakeholders understand the impact of tourism on children and communities in Zanzibar so they can more likely carry out the future business with better awareness to guard the development process in Zanzibar.