He said most of them visited the island’s marine park and reserve, noting that out of the total, 252 were Tanzanians and 5,160 their foreign counterparts.
“This is an increase of 12 percent compared to the number of tourists who visited the island in 2016/2017 whose number stood at 4,817” he said, elaborating that the government continues working on infrastructure improvements like building a new ferry and renovation of the pier at Nyamisati and Mafia islands.
The deputy minister was responding to a question asked by the Mafia MP, Mbaraka Dau (CCM) who wanted to know the number of tourists who visited the island in 2017/2018.
“What is the government doing to make Mafia island more attractive to tourists in an effort to earn more revenues?” he asked, expressing the hope that more tourists are likely to continue visiting.
The deputy minister noted that Mafia is among strategic tourist sites for beach, earmarked for development.
The island has in the recent years been visited by many tourists, attracted by scuba diving, sport fishing and snorkeling.
The Mafia Archipelago is scattered over the country’s territorial waters in Coast Region, 21 km off the Rufiji River Delta.
The largest of a score of islands, atolls and tidal sandbars, Mafia itself is approximately 50 km long by 15km across, and is surrounded by a barrier reef teeming with marine life.
Almost half the coastline of Mafia, some 822km², has been gazetted a marine park by the government. To date over 50 genera of corals, more than 460 species of fish and five different species of turtles have been recorded in the waters around Chole Bay.
Natural vegetation on Mafia ranges from tidal mangrove thickets and scrubby coastal moorlands to palm-wooden grassland and lowland rainforest.
Magnificent baobabs are prominent along with the native Albizia. Patches of coastal high forest remain in localities all over Mafia. One of the most picturesque, the Chunguruma Forest, is a dense tree canopy interlaced with palms, lianes and epiphytes and has an abundant floor covering of ferns.