Zanzibar is one of the greatest tourist destinations in Africa and the world at large. Recently, the travel magazine named Zanzibar as a top destination for those seeking relaxation and pleasure during the 2023 summer. It is in this regard, the Commission for Tourism is working very hard to ensure there are attractive environments for establishing tourism business in Zanzibar.

The Situation Before Changes

Zanzibar Tourism Act provides, inter alia, no tourism business shall be established in Zanzibar unless there is a valid license granted by the Zanzibar Commission for Tourism. Also, the Act provides that, the Director General upon the applicant’s fulfilment of the conditions set under the Act shall grant the license, and the license shall be valid for a period of one year. Practically a period of one year is defined to mean a traditional calendar year. In that essence, all people doing tourism business in Zanzibar were required to renew their license at the end of the traditional calendar year.

The Instigation of changes

On July 14, 2023, the Zanzibar Commission for Tourism issued a press release announcing the significant change in the validity period of licenses issued to tourism-related businesses. It provides, all licenses issued by the Zanzibar Commission for Tourism shall be valid for a duration of 12 months rather than following the traditional calendar year.  According to the press statement, the policy change is part of the ongoing commission’s commitment to promote ease of doing business and to accommodate the evolving needs of tourism businesses in Zanzibar.

Also, a point worthy noting is, the changes in the licensing policy will allow those who desire to engage in the tourism business to obtain their licenses at any time throughout the year, with subsequent renewals falling on the anniversary of the original issuance. This manifests the changes intended to promote ease of doing tourism business in Zanzibar.

Implications of the Licensing Policy Change

The change in licensing policy is expected to have the following implications;

  • Streamline administrative processes; The policy change will simplify the administrative process because the application for renewal will be determined and granted at different times.
  • Reduce bureaucratic hurdles; one of the noted challenges of investing in African countries is, the bureaucracy of the government institutions responsible for providing necessary documentation and licenses. In that regard, the changes of the policy to allow the validity of the license to be valid for 12 months rather than a traditional calendar year eliminates the unnecessary back and forth caused by the simultaneous renewal of licenses.
  • Allow businesses to operate without interruption; the changes set a relief for the investors to continue with their business for a longer period of time without interruption by the commission. In that essence, eliminating the simultaneous license renewal promotes smoother operation for all stakeholders involved.


The licensing policy change is going to benefit both tourism operators and the government of Zanzibar as Ms. Hafsa Mbamba, the Executive Secretary of the commission quoted saying, interalia “We believe that this change will provide our valued tourism operators with more flexibility, enable them to focus on delivering exceptional experiences to visitors and contribute to the growth of Zanzibar’s tourism industry”.


Important Notice:

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