Dar es Salaam. Police in the semi-autonomous archipelago of Zanzibar have arrested a thirty-seven-year-old man for allegedly robbing Polish tourists in the archipelago before abandoning them in the streets.
Mohamed Aboud Mtoro is said to have committed the alleged crime on July 23, 2022, while driving a Noah Vox vehicle with the registration number Z761GP, Mjini Magharib regional police commander Richard Thadei Mchomvu told journalists on Wednesday.
Posing as a taxi driver, Mtoro took the soon-to-be-robbed tourists from the Kaskazini Unguja region to the Mjini Magharib region but robbed them along the way before abandoning them in Mombasa, a town in the region.
Zanzibar is generally not considered dangerous to tourists, according to the travel website Sac à Voyages. While it admits incidents of theft or scams are reported, the website says it is the same thing on all tourist sites around the world.
“But while Zanzibar isn’t one of the most dangerous places in the world, it’s not a 100 percent safe island either,” the website cautions. “Indeed, the crime rate has been increasing in recent years.”
Wednesday’s arrest itself comes almost five months since a Nigerian tourist Zainab Oladehinde accused police in Zanzibar of dismissing her case of alleged raping and robbery that took place while she was staying in one of the hotels in Zanzibar.
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Tourism is considered a significant source of income in Zanzibar’s economy and its largest source of foreign exchange.
According to World Bank figures, in 2018, the sector contributed an estimated 28 per cent to the islands’ GDP and 82 per cent of its foreign exchange earnings.
In 2017, tourism accounted for 68 per cent of investments approved by the Zanzibar Investment Promotion Authority, according to the bank.
The sector also created an estimated 22,000 direct and 50,000 indirect jobs, six out of the islands’ total population of around 1.4 million people.
Accommodation and food services earned around $135 million from 520,809 tourist arrivals in 2018; approximately US$ 260 per tourist per visit, WB says. Year-on-year tourist arrivals have increased by around 15 per cent over the last three years.
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Zanzibar realizes this contribution to its economy and has been taking a number of measures to make the archipelago safe for tourists.
In November 2021, for instance, Zanzibar President Hussein Ali Mwinyi launched a special police unit for protecting tourists visiting the archipelago.
“Police officials assigned to the new unit should work professionally and earn trust from the visitors and make Zanzibar a peaceful destination,” President Mwinyi said then.