BY OUR CORRESPONDENT- ZANZIBAR
Tourism industry is an emerging important contributor to the Zanzibar economy following the fall of clove prices in the world market.
The industry has substantial contribution to the isles revenue due to the number of visitors who arrive in the islands every year.
However, one of the major challenges facing the tourists is inadequate and correct historical information about Zanzibar, let alone the language problem.
The problem arises because the majority of tour guides are not competent and knowledgeable enough to provide the needed information to the visitors.
To mitigate such problems, Kawa Training Centre has been established in Zanzibar Stone Town to specifically cater for the various areas in the tourism sector.
The students who aspire to be professional tour guides are imparted among other courses, English language proficiency, computer literacy and hospitality to the visitors.
Suzanne Degeling is the Centre’s Executive Director. She says that she was moved to establish the centre to help the youths to ensure that they receive correct education that will enable them to be efficient and professional tour operators
She says that initially there were problems because majority of youth who wanted to be tour guides were not proficient in the English language.
“They were also not equipped with the skills of tour guidance for tourists who arrived in the islands as most of them did not know the history of the Old Zanzibar Stone Town, having practically scanty knowledge of this international heritage.” She adds.
According to the Director, many of the youths who have passed through the centre were now happy and their lives have improved tremendously after undergoing the training.
She stresses that the main objective of the centre is to support the Zanzibar youths to ensure that they attain their goals though at the beginning many of them were sceptical to join the centre.
She says the situation has changed and many youths have been employed in the tourism sector while others are self-employed in the industry.
The director observes that there has been distorted belief that tour guidance is only for males. The centre tries to inculcate in the minds of youths the international perception of tourism sector which involve both genders.
“It is encouraging to see that the centre has had good government support from the time and it is an opportunity worth making to empower the youths to manage their future”, she says.
Ali Mussa Jappe (24) is among the youths who have benefited from the training and is now an expert tour guide. He concedes that all that he is proud of is a result of the training he has attended.
“After completing my secondary school education, I was informed of the existence of Kawa Training Centre. I thought it was an appropriate place where I could increase my experience, including developing my English language skills. So, I joined the centre with the objective to acquire language skills and understand our cultural heritage that we have in Zanzibar”, he says.
He adds that he is now able to understand to understand the concept of international tourism. “I have learned a lot of things from the tourists I have guided. They exposed me to many opportunities
“Apart from getting education and remaining at the centre as an instructor, Kawa Training Centre has an international partnership that helps many youths to realize their dreams”, says Jape.
According to him, there are challenges in the business of tour guidance including the negative attitude of some parents who take tour guides as hooligans.
“There is a need for parents to give their children more support in education which is the only inheritance parents can leave to their children.” He says
Saida Salum Malick, who was the sole female graduate at the centre in 2017, distinguishes herself as an example to be emulated by her female counterparts.
She had a dream to work in a sector with few female workers. She found that tourism industry provided the opportunity she wanted.
“Now I am happy that I have officially entered this sector as a tour guide. There is narrow and negative attitude on women participation as tour guides. It is interesting to note that even male tour guides have now begun to fear my presence in the business.
“Men believe that women have no competence in that work, something that is totally wrong.” She says
Saida dreams to establish her own company where “I shall employ female workers only so as to expand their scope of responsibility”.
She advises parents to allow their children to indulge themselves in studying tourism; a sector which she says has many opportunities which guarantee employment.