ARUSHA, Tanzania, Jan. 12 (Xinhua) -- As Tanzania's semi-autonomous Zanzibar archipelago marks its 53rd anniversary on Thursday, the Indian Ocean Island intends to explore opportunities on its beautiful beaches and natural forest reserves to boost the tourism industry.
"We have pristine beaches, warm water, coral reefs, natural forests, antiquities, which can be used to lure more international visitors," said Juma Ali Juma, Zanzibar permanent secretary in the Ministry of Agriculture, Natural Resources, Livestock and Fisheries
He said: "We're encouraging more visitors to come and enjoy the Zanzibar natural beauty including our beautiful beaches, coupled with prevailing peace."
He named some of the beautiful beaches in Zanzibar as Nungwi, Kendwa, Matemwe, Kiwengwa and Pongwe, Kizimkazi, Bwejuu, and Dongwe.
The official further said the Isles' government has been working to explore as many tourist destinations as possible and "recently we have launched the Zanzibar City Park. This is a new tourism center located in the Masingini Forest Reserve, which will lure more tourists."
Situated at the highest peak of Zanzibar; about 120 metres above sea level, the official said: "Masingini Forest Reserve is a catchment forest and one of the major sources of water for the people of Zanzibar and the surrounding areas with estimates of about 27,400,000 litres of water pumped daily. This natural forest can be used as another tourist destination."
January Makamba, Tanzania's Minister of State in the Vice-President's Office, in-charge of Union and Environment also suggested the need for Zanzibar to capitalize on the nation's natural beauty, and making this sector a success, is crucial if the country wants to retain the top spot in African human development rankings.
"Effective use of these attractions could be used to promote tourism in Zanzibar," the minister said, noting that tourism alone could help to boost national coffers as well as create job opportunities for islanders and address poverty.
He said that Zanzibar is famous for its spices and the slave trade of the 19th century, to the extent that the Stone Town of Zanzibar is named as the UNESCO World heritage site; "hence use that opportunity to market the island outside the world."
Zanzibar, which is made up of two large islands-Unguja and Pemba with many small islands, is expected to host 450,000 international tourists this year, and these visitors will contribute 27 percent of its gross domestic product and 83 percent of foreign exchange. The industry also has generated 22,000 jobs as well as benefiting farmers, fishermen and livestock keepers in the Indian Ocean Island.