In Tanzania’s semi-autonomous archipelago of Zanzibar, the tourism-dominated economy has been hard hit by tourists’ fears over the Coronavirus pandemic, with reports of hotel cancellations after the government suspended direct flights from Italy.
The East African nation has not had any confirmed case of the coronavirus.
According to the BBC, at least 80% of Zanzibar’s annual foreign income comes from tourism but the government is looking at boosting investment in other sectors, such as fishing and agriculture, to mitigate the economic blow.
Zanzibar’s scenery and rich historical culture bring close to 500,000 tourists to the island every year. But since the government banned air-traffic from some countries, several hotels in Zanzibar have already received cancellations, especially from group bookings.
“We have to improve our agriculture system now using beautiful rains that we have, we have to improve our fishing industry, so that we don’t depend on tourism anymore because of this risk, which may happen anytime again,” Zanzibar’s health minister Hamad Rashid says.
The ministry has put in place measures to help prevent a coronavirus outbreak.
On Wednesday, the coronavirus outbreak was declared a pandemic by the World Health Organization.
It has spread to 114 countries across the world from China in just over three months, infected 129,589 people and killed 4,749.