A View of Stone Town from Africa House Hotel

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Tanzania is among African countries blessed with numerous tourist attractions. Stone Town, situated in the Zanzibar Island, is in the top list of areas which should be in your travel bucket list. Almost everything in this town is historic from its indigenous culture, lifestyle, foods, activities as well as ancient architecture which features traditions of different races such as Arabs, Persians, Africans, Indians, Portuguese, and British which have existed since the 18th and 19th centuries.

Maktaba Pekee Stone Town

Maktaba Pekee Stone Town (Archives of Stone Town)

In an effort to promote those to Tanzanians and foreigners, Jumia Travel has come up with the Destinations Campaign aimed at highlighting activities, things to do and places to visit in that particular area.

To ensure this campaign a success, Jumia Travel is conducting various interviews in those respective destinations for organic insights from hoteliers. The following is one of the interviews conducted with the Operations Manager of Africa House Hotel, Mr. Justus Kisome.

 

JT: Could you tell us a little bit about your hotel?

Justus: Africa House Hotel is a four-star situated in the historic building owned by the Zanzibar Revolutionary Government in Stone Town.

 Africa House

Africa House

The hotel has 15 rooms with different categories to cater to guests’ needs. Among those rooms, 6  face the sea which give guests an opportunity to watch the beautiful view of the sunset. The other 9 rooms face the Stone Town which give them a clear view of the town with the activities and daily life of its people as well as the old buildings which have stood for over centuries.

 

JT: What are the unique features in your hotel?

Justus: I am very proud to say that Africa House Hotel is the only hotel with a library in Stone Town. Apart from that, our hotel is also the only one with a Chinese restaurant which we have introduced recently. The restaurant is doing very well to the extent that we even receive orders direct from our guests in China.

 

JT: What would you say your clientele is built of? Domestic or foreign?

Justus: In general, our guests are a mixture of locals and foreigners.

Africa House Terrace

Most of the domestic guests we receive from Stone Town are officials directed by the government. But also the locals play an important role by referring most of their guests to our hotel, we are very grateful.

 

JT: What are the main activities requested by the guests who visit your hotel?

Justus: Most of the guests we receive they visit Stone Town for business purposes and not leisure. In general, as is the same to most of other hotels in Stone Town, guests use them as stop points before departing to other destinations such as beaches, airport or ferry.

 

JT: What is your opinion regarding the growth of domestic/regional tourism. Are there any changes you have observed this year?

Justus: The growth of the number of domestic tourists in Stone Town is promising as they keep increasing with time. However, we receive a lot of foreigners. But most of the time locals bring and refer their guests to our hotel. Therefore, I can say that even if they don’t come here regularly, Zanzibaris are good tourists since they could be observed in other tourist attractions around Stone Town.

 

JT: What are your comments on Zanzibar as a destination? Do you believe it’s growing in popularity as the years pass?

Justus: Zanzibar as the hub of tourist attractions in Tanzania is performing well and still tourists can’t get enough of it.

 Africa House Terrace

Sunset from Africa House Terrace

Number of guests is interesting and they are still pouring in. For example, now it is a low season but guests are many to the extent that some hotels are sold out while others have a few vacant rooms. And this can be observed for the past months of July, August and now we are in September the business is good compared to last season.

 

JT: How does the tourism levy and other charges, on top of 18% VAT affect your operations?

Justus: In my opinion, I do not think that Zanzibar has been affected by that situation. The charges are just the same as before. Tourists only pay taxes at ferry or airport when they are coming to visit here. And other charges in other tourist attractions are just normal and I think everywhere else they do the same. If we were affected then we could notice a number tourists decreasing but that’s not happening still more are coming and refer to their colleagues to do so.

 

JT: What are your general views on the role of online platforms in the tourism and hospitality industry in Tanzania?

Justus: It is true that the world has changed especially on how businesses are handled nowadays. Just as the same as other parts of the world, here in Zanzibar we have also embraced new technologies especially shifting into the online platforms because most of our guests use them to access us. And most importantly, most foreigners trust the online platforms so much.

 

JT: In addition to that, what do you feel about the partnership with Jumia Travel and your hotel? Do you think it is helpful?

Justus: Our relationship with Jumia Travel is good and growing tremendously as they help us to facilitate easy operations. Their physical and online presence in the market add value to our business especially by reaching a wider target audience which we couldn’t do by ourselves. Compared to before, I think now Jumia Travel has the right team because they communicate and visit us regularly to see how we are doing.

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