Passengers first view of Zanzibar
At the moment the current airport can either be:
- off-putting to new arrivals on the island expecting similar standards to the airport they left in the “western”world; no carousel but luggage passed through a hole in the wall on to a wooden bench; no shops (though there are a couple of money change outlets); very limited toilet facilities
- or it can be seen as a wonderful experience of airports of a bygone era (pre-carousel, pre expensive retail outlets, pre Dyson high powered hand driers, etc) and an introduction to Africa.
But all is about to change with a new terminal building due for completion in October 2015 – we will believe that date when we see it!! It is Africa, after all – though even in our “western” world we know that projected completion dates of major building projects are rarely achieved.
The intentions will not only provide passengers with better facilities, cope with an increasing number of passengers, but also to attract new airlines to inaugurate scheduled flights to Zanzibar making it more accessible to people from Europe, South Africa, the Indian sub-continent and beyond. At the moment only 3 international airlines fly in to Zanzibar; Kenya Airways, Ethiopian Airways and Oman Air.
The upgrading and extension will be able to cope with larger, and more, aircraft at any one time aimed at bringing more tourists to the island to fill the ever increasing number of beds as the new hotels continue to be built.
Over 80 per cent of the island’s foreign exchange earnings come from tourism, hence the Government’s desire to increase the number of visitors.
The extension of the runway has been completed. The new terminal is partly funded by The World Bank, but largely by a long term loan from the Chinese Government – another example of the continued Chinese investment in many parts of Africa.
New terminal under construction
The project, started in February 2011, will provide the island with a truly “international” terminal, yes, carousels, retail outlets, modern toilets (I guess with Dyson power hand driers) spacious departure and arrival halls – but also better working facilities and equipment for an increased number of staff who will be employed.
Impression of the new terminal building
Whilst the airport development will providers travellers with more comfortable arrival and departure facilities, will this be good for Zanzibar and its people?? Those who have an interest in the island and its people certainly hope it will. It will be of benefit if:
- It will create more employment for local people staffing an enlarged airport.
- Assuming it attracts more visitors it will increase the revenue to the Government of Zanzibar which imposes significant taxes on hotel occupancy – but will only benefit local people if this increased revenue is invested in, for example:
- Improving the education system by increasing the number of schools, the fabric and facilities of existing schools, improving basic materials available for schools, improving teacher training and increasing the number of qualified teachers – and more.
- Improving the health care system, the facilities at existing health care establishments, increasing the number and range of health clinics, recruiting more qualified health care staff – and more.
- Improving the infrastructure of the island: electricity supply, roads, sanitation, housing – and more.
- Those hotels experiencing higher occupancy, and new hotels to cope with an increased number of visitors, will recruit staff from the local communities – not only in menial positions but training local people to take on meaningful jobs.
At Zanzibar Travel, we do hope the improved airport facilities will benefit all passengers, not only tourists but travellers from the East African community , and be of a wider benefit to the people of Zanzibar.
~ Michael Sweeney