Only a fort night after the collapse of Beit-al-Ajaib or the House of Wonders in Stone Town, Zanzibar, the island’s tourism earnings are reported to be down 38 percent compared to last year.
The report comes from the Bank of Tanzania (BoT) which states that despite the tourism sector racking in a surplus of $62.7 million, however this is still 37.7 percent lower than what it was able to amass during the same period in 2019.
Zanzibar’s economy greatly relies on tourism and historical sites like the House of Wonders are a great attraction for tourists. Now with the building having collapsed during restoration efforts, the island is suffering the effects.
Granted the single event is not the cause for the dropped revenue, which the BoT blames on Covid-19, the loss of such an important site has an impact in the sector.
In its monthly economic review for December, BoT wrote, “Zanzibar’s service account registered a surplus of $62.7 million, 37.7 percent lower than the surplus recorded during the corresponding period in 2019.”
The BoT also notes that while Christmas holiday season is traditionally one of Zanzibar’s busiest, however that was not the case last year due to the pandemic, and especially travel restrictions.
The central bank said the decline in surplus was largely due to a decrease in receipts mainly from travel-related services including tourism.
According to the Zanzibar Chief Statistician’s office, in November 2020, there were 29,128 arrivals, 61 percent down from the 47,824 tourists in November 2019. October 2020 had 12,157 arrivals,
“Zanzibar received 182,922 visitors from January to October 2020, a 54.7 per cent decline compared to a similar period the previous year.
Generally speaking, the overall current account of Zanzibar recorded a deficit of $113.9 million for the year ending November, compared with the $62.3 million deficit in the corresponding period for 2019, largely on account of imports outweighing exports.
“The increased deficit is an about-turn of a rise in the imports bill which increased by 42.5 percent to $336.6 million from $236.1 million in the year ending November 2019,” the BoT report said.
However, on the other hand, imports of goods and services increased by 32.4 per cent to $445.1 million in the year ending November 2020, from that recorded in the corresponding period in 2019.
According to the BoT this was the result of a rise in imports of capital goods, and particular transport equipment and machinery.
“Notably, all imports categories recorded an improvement, except for intermediate goods. Goods imports accounted for around 30 per cent of total imports,” reads the BoT report.
Further still, according to the BoT report, the goods account also suffered a major drop of $307.8 million in the year ending November 2020 from a deficit of $224.2 million in the year ending November 2019.
To make matters, worse, exports also went down by 5.9 percent in the year ending November 2020, to $200.1 million from $212.6 million which was the amount earned in the same period the previous year.