Saturday, September 23, 2023

Zanzibar attracts SAUDIA Airlines direct flights

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Targeting more visitors and trade with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, the Zanzibar government wants direct flights from the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to boost trade and strengthen relations between Zanzibar and Saudi Arabia.

Zanzibar State Minister Mr. Haroun Ali Suleiman said that having a direct flight from Saudi Arabia to the island would attract more business travelers to fly between Saudi Arabia and Zanzibar hence providing quick flights to Muslim pilgrims from Zanzibar to the Holy City of Mecca in the Kingdom.

The Zanzibar Minister pointed out that most of the Tanzanian pilgrims going to Mecca are from Zanzibar, where this year a total of 2,500 pilgrims out of more than 3,000 who travelled to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, were from Zanzibar, necessitating a direct flight.

The Minister spoke during his welcoming comments to the Acting Saudi Arabian Ambassador to Tanzania, Mr. Fahad Al Harb, who paid him a courtesy visit  the island.

Mr. Suleiman pointed out that a SAUDI Airline direct flight is much needed, especially during pilgrimages in order to ease transportation for people wishing to perform the holy journey.

“We can prepare in advance effective strategies for the transportation of pilgrims and other citizens. This will to a greater extent help to minimize inconvenience to travelers from Tanzania to Mecca,” he said.

Saudi Arabia officials in Zanzibar – image courtesy of A.Tairo

Zanzibar pilgrims flying to Saudi Arabia have to fly from Dar es Salaam, making them spend more time to book then board the flights, prompting Zanzibar authorities to seek direct flights between the island and Saudi Arabia. Direct flights between Saudi Arabia and Zanzibar will make it easier for travelers to end connecting multiple flights through Qatar – Doha to Oman – Muscat and other places, he said. The request has already been submitted to the respective ministry of the Saudi Arabia government, while looking forward to a positive response.

SAUDIA, the Saudi national airline, began direct flights from Jeddah to Dar es Salaam’s Julius Nyerere International Airport in March of this year. Direct flights between Dar es Salaam and Jeddah will cut down the travelling time to about 4.40 hours from the previous 10 hours spent by travelers flying between Saudi Arabia and Tanzania through Addis Ababa and Doha.

Saudi Arabia’s rich heritage has been attracting travelers from Tanzania and rest of Africa, mostly pilgrims to the Kingdom’s holy sites in Mecca and Medina.

“SAUDIA’s direct route will provide a seamless experience for Hajj and Umrah guests from Tanzania,” the SAUDIA’s Chief Commercial Officer, Mr. Arved Nikolaus Von Zur Muhlen, said. “In alignment with the Kingdom’s Vision 2030 objective of increasing the number of visitors to Saudi Arabia, international expansion is vital to help achieve that goal.”

Tanzania is the 14th African country in which SAUDIA is currently operating direct flights. The airline operates 4 flights per week between Julius Nyerere International Airport (JNIA) and King Abdulaziz International Airport on Tuesdays, Thursdays, Fridays, and Sundays.

Building good relations in tourism, Saudi Arabia and Tanzania are looking at biodiversity conservation and wildlife protection as areas of cooperation. Rich in history and religious antiquities, Saudi Arabia is now borrowing a leaf from Tanzania’s wildlife resources for the Kingdom’s future biodiversity conservation and tourism.

Rich in historical and religious antiquities, Saudi Arabia attracts pilgrims from Tanzania and Africa to visit the Kingdom’s preserved, religious, historical, and cultural heritage sites. Muslim pilgrims from Tanzania visit Saudi Arabia every year during Hajj caravans in Holy cities of Mecca and Medina.

The Saudi Commission for Tourism and Antiquities (SCTA) said earlier that inbound tourists to the Kingdom mostly take religious vacations.

Tanzania and other Eastern African states are rated high among African states sending their citizens to the Kingdom for the Hajj pilgrimage every year.

Saudi Arabia is currently promoting tourism as its priority and other key economic sector in combination with oil resources.

The Central Bank of Tanzania is planning to give tourist hotels in Zanzibar permits to conduct foreign currency transactions, said Mr. Emmanuel Tutuba, Governor of the Bank of Tanzania.

A survey conducted by various financial institutions has shown that tourist hotels in Zanzibar receive US dollars from visitors but use local currency to buy items in the local market.

Tourism is the leading sector for economic growth and the leading earner of foreign exchange in Zanzibar. The island’s government is striving to improve the business and investment environment to boost tourism and the blue economy using available marine resources.

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