Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Zanzibar 20 years on

Getting ill just when things are getting exciting is so irritating! I woke in the early hours of Saturday night with bunged up nose,burning throat and chest and aching all over. Yup, flu. No choice but to carry on though, so Sunday morning I upped and left Dar for Zanzibar. Considering there is an International Film Festival (ZIFF) on it’s pretty quiet. My plane had one other passenger and the hotel I am staying in is all but empty. Bizarrely I can still find my bearings, it hasn’t changed all that much, Ok lots of hotels and dukas,(which were decidedly NOT around 20 years ago) and a few good restaurants, but it hasn’t lost its magical essence. That said, the papsi (touts) are pretty bad, you get them in Dar as well, but Stonetown is such small place that it can seem you are being hassled constantly ‘seestar seetar I give you tour, I take you here et c etc. I think the thing I was most conscious of was being a lone female, I don’t think they would have been any different had I not been alone, but it could be more intimidating when you are, I did not feel unsafe at any point, but more sensitive souls might(but I guess they wouldn’t be travelling alone). I think that as it is still low season there aren’t enough tourists to go round, in other words once high season hits you might only get hassled once or twice during a walk and once you said no they would move on, as it was I found it annoying (being ill probably didn’t help!). All that said, Stonetown is so amazing and if you are coming to Tanzania you really can't miss it out, I didn't have the chance to check out beaches, but then I don't think any beach can compare to Ras Mbisi!!

I’m staying at the Abuso Inn, very authentically Zanzibari, and very simple, my shutters open to a view of the sea and I had an uninterrupted gaze at the sunset on Sunday evening.

Food was very much a grab it and run back to bed, I had a Prawn curry at the Buni Café for lunch, and I hit Forodhani Gardens that night for coconut sesame bread, grilled shrimp, falafel with salad and chilli sauce.

Monday brought seminar time, I was much more comfortable speaking ‘in public’ having done Fridays one in Dar and it seemed to go over well, I think/hope having someone who has started out knowing zero about marketing let alone social media and internet marketing/branding helped people see that it is possible and that you don’t have to be a computer whizz kid to achieve some success. Almost more importantly it's FUN!

I spent Monday evening with Julia from ZATI and Rachel from Mambo Magazine, G&T’s in Mercurys and dinner at Tatu’s really good getting some perspective on the similar issues and challenges we all face working in Tourism here, it’s easy to forget that we are all in the same boat.

Monday morning brought breakfast at the Serena Inn and my flight to Dar followed by the short flight to Mafia (and the discovery that Flightlink are starting a Zanzibar-Mafia flight this season!!)

Friday, June 10, 2011

E Tourism Frontiers (& Zanzibar)

It has been a few years (20) since I last visited Zanzibar, having grown up in Dar es Salaam I had visited many times during my childhood and teens. In those days there were no hotels and we always stayed at the British High Commission house. Spring forward 20 years and Zanzibar is apparently COVERED in Hotels! Back then Stonetown was a rundown rabbit warren of streets, now it’s a World Heritage Site and masses of restoration has happened and is on-going. I have vivid memories of hiring (huge) bicycles with no gears to get around and spending most of my time flat on my back-side (and it was not as well covered back in the day).
Well I am getting to return to Zanzibar thanks to Damien and Elizabeth Cook of E Tourism Frontiers as I am one of their case studies for a series of one day workshops they are holding in East Africa. The purpose of the workshops is to promote the use of E-commerce for tourism within East Africa. On-line bookings and payments, social media, decent websites et-al.
I shall write up my Zanzibar trip on my return, I’m a bit excited, but also nervous about going back to a place I loved, although I’m hoping that as I know in advance there have been big changes it won’t be too much of a shock. In the meantime for those that are interested the remaining Workshop dates and places are as follows;
Dar Es Salaam (June 17th Kempinski Hotel),
Zanzibar (June 20th Grand Palace Hotel) ,
Arusha (June 22nd New Arusha Hotel).

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

The Dar es Salaam Goat Races 2011

It's that time of year, the announcement that people and companies can choose and enter a goat for the Annual Goat Races. I know mad, but anyway - the Dar es Salaam Goat Races are the Dar equivalent of Ascot, lots of dressing up and HATS, and it's all done for Charity.

The Goat Races started in 2001 and have run each year since getting bigger each time, it raises masses for charities based in Tanzania and is a totally over the top fun day out (although it carries on into the night at various bars for the adults!!)

We will be donating a weekend at Ras Mbisi for the Goat Race raffle.

Monday, June 6, 2011