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EDITORIAL: Stop Zanzibar hotel fires to save the tourism sector

Tragedy struck again in Zanzibar as fire ravaged another hotel. On August 4, the Karibu Beach Resort Pongwe became the latest victim of this alarming trend.

On July 9, 2023 five hotels were destroyed by fire in South Unguja Region.

While no lives were lost in the recent blaze, the hotel owners and guests suffered immense losses as the inferno consumed the entire property. These recurrent fires not only pose significant financial setbacks but also jeopardize the safety of tourists and staff.

According to the Regional Commissioner, Rashid Hadid Rashid, the fire originated from an electric shock in one of the huts and rapidly spread due to strong winds. In response, a task force comprising Zanzibar Electricity Company (Zeco), Police, and the fire brigade has been formed to investigate the true cause of these fires.

The formation of the task force notwithstanding, the frequency of these incidents necessitates urgent action from the authorities to ensure that no other incident happens.

Addressing the root causes is crucial to prevent further tragedies and protect the thriving tourism industry that Zanzibar heavily relies on.

Thorough hotel safety inspections, with a focus on electricity usage and potential fire hazards, must be conducted proactively to ensure compliance with safety standards. Hotel owners must prioritize safety measures, including the installation of modern fire detection and suppression systems.

Regular fire safety training for staff and emergency drills can save lives and minimize damage during such incidents.

Zanzibar’s appeal as a tourist destination lies in its scenic beauty, pristine beaches, rich culture, and warm hospitality.

However, these devastating incidents tarnish its image and erode the confidence of both domestic and international tourists. Collaborative efforts among authorities, hoteliers, and the community are essential to implement robust safety protocols that safeguard lives and property.