Foreigners unaware of local custom in Tanzania

By Scolastica Philemon and Jonia Lugenge

Following the incident of the acid attack in Zanzibar, where acid was thrown on the face, hands and chest of two British teens a few weeks ago in Stone Town, local tour operators in Tanzania are saying that foreigners visiting the country must be fully instructed on local culture, norms and traditions of the society which they are coming into.

“These people may not be aware of the Tanzania environment, this is due to diverse culture and religious believes that exists in our country, we must not take time to injure or hurt our visitors instead to help them by instructing and educating them on our society traditions” said a local tour operator.

“Currently Tanzania attracts more than one million foreign visitors per year and the number is expected to double in the few years to come, because of this the tourism sector must be very careful to support this trend for the development of the country” said Mustafa Akonaay, the secretary executive of the Arusha-based Tanzania association of tour operators.

Zanzibar tourism minister Said Ally Mbaack is offering a reward of 10 million Tanzanian shillings for information leading to arrest of the perpetrators. Describing the event as a shame on the people of Zanzibar, he added that people of Zanzibar should work harder to make sure that Zanzibar is safe for visitors and citizens.

According to Zanzibar police, seven people have already been questioned over the attack. The police of Zanzibar also have offered a reward for information leading to capture of the attackers. Police have told people of Zanzibar to understand that visitors who are coming to Zanzibar are from different cultural backgrounds, therefore the citizens have to play their part in educating those visitors of how to behave rather than acting negatively towards them.

Residents of Zanzibar, Ashura Ramathani (29) and Hafithi Hussein (34), say that religion should not be an excuse for violence. They added that additionally, there must be more signs put up asking for foreigners to respect the local culture. They acknowledged that the incident in Zanzibar may ruin Tanzania’s reputation and negatively affect development in the tourism sector.

Foreigners who are living in Tanzania, James Furst (25) and Caryn Hurbert (28) say that they are really shocked by the incident and that they are very sorry for the assault on their fellow foreigners.

“It’s unfortunate, as most tourists who come to Tanzania need guidelines as they are not aware of the country traditions” they added.

Scolastica is a student at St. Augustine University of Tanzania, studying a degree in Mass Communication. Scolastica aspires to be an internationally recognized journalist of human rights. She hopes to become the voice of the voiceless.

After completing her studies in Journalism and Mass Communications, Jonia hopes to become a competitive writer and reporter of different issues, both domestic and international. Jonia plans to focus on the violation of human rights in her pursuits.

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