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Breaking Travel News interview: Andrew Cook, general manager, Diamonds La Gemma dell’Est

Set within exotic tropical gardens and water features inviting guests to enjoy the pristine view over the Indian Ocean, Diamonds La Gemma dell’Est is located on the north-western shores of magical Zanzibar.

Having recently been confirmed as host for the World Travel Awards Africa & Indian Ocean Gala Ceremony 2016, Breaking Travel News here chats with general manager Andrew Cook about this world-class destination.

Breaking Travel News: Perhaps we could begin with a brief overview of the property? What is on offer there and what does Diamonds La Gemma dell’Est add to the tourism sector in Zanzibar?

Andrew Cook: Diamonds La Gemma dell’Est located on the north-western shores of the magical Zanzibar Island is set within stupendous exotic tropical gardens and water features. Our guests enjoy pristine views over the Indian Ocean.

Our enchanting, luxurious and environmentally friendly resort has a total of 138 rooms, all with private terrace and the majority with sea view.

We boast four restaurants and three bars, all of which offer a vast array of international and local cuisine, combined with our notable service and culinary excellence.

For our active guests or for guests mixing business with pleasure, our resort offers the following additional facilities: an international diving centre, a fully equipped water sports centre, the Mvua African Rain Spa, an open air gym, the Spherique Boutique and the finest conference facilities on the island; the Baobab Congress Centre.

We are fully committed to employing and developing the local indigenous talent on the island.

We work closely with the local hotel schools to participate in their training and development programs for those desiring to be employed into the tourism business.

We promote and fully support all local business partners that meet our standards and requirements; from local food and amenity suppliers to the local turtle sanctuary, the unique spice tour managed by local staff and many more.

We also support the non-profit organisation Rianldo Gasparini Foundation, which founded and manages a maternity clinic locally in Kendwa.

BTN: We are here at ITB Berlin in Germany. How important is the European market for the property?

AC: The European market is a critical market for Zanzibar Tourism and as positive awareness and exposure increases for this incredibly beautiful island, the European market share should see positive growth.

The all year round climate and warm seas, as well as the local island offerings, are an attractive option for all Europeans. Diamonds La Gemma dell’Est annual Europe market share of total business is approximately 50 per cent.

BTN: Zanzibar is seen here in Europe as predominantly a beach destination; how accurate is this perception? Is there more to do on the island?

AC: It is true that Zanzibar is famed and predominantly seen as a beach destination -with crystal clear warm cobalt-blue seas all year round and pure white sandy beaches.

However, Zanzibar has far more to offer the discerning traveller.

From diving, snorkelling, kite surfing, deep sea fishing and many other aquatic experiences, as well as the often forgotten cultural experiences on offer.

Zanzibar is refereed to as the Spice Island, so a guided Spice Tour is a journey, education and must for all food lovers.

Alternatively for the cultural enthusiasts; a Stone Town visit provides an insight into the history of the people of the island.

You can walk through alleyways overhung with wooden balconies and faces from every shore of the Indian Ocean and loose yourself in centuries of history.

Stone Town was host to one of the world’s last open slave markets.

It is worth taking one of the recommended tours to really connect with local residents and appreciate its richly textured history an sites from.

The Anglican Cathedral and its gardens, which was the first Anglican cathedral in East Africa constructed in the 1870s, is also popular.

Built on the site of the old slave market, the inspiration behind the construction of the cathedral was David Livingstone.

BTN: Zanzibar vice president Seif Ali Iddi recently outlined plans for the destination to grow in the international tourism market. What more would you like to see the government do in order to achieve this aim?

AC: Ease visa fees and requirements for key markets – this would be a great help.

Tourism would also benefit from English literacy training, as well as languages used by those international markets visiting Zanzibar. Education and training in variety of tourism skills, covering all sectors, would also be useful.

We would also like to see the completion of the upgrade and expansion plan for the airport, as this is a priority as it is the first and last impression visitors have of their trip to Zanzibar.

This will allow more direct flights and bigger planes to arrive directly and bring more tourists into Zanzibar, which will create more job opportunities.

Having a more aggressive government marketing campaign of Zanzibar would also help tourism and we would like to see more work with industry partners to market Zanzibar more aggressively as a destination in key and potential growth markets.

BTN: Diamonds La Gemma dell’Est has recently been confirmed as the host for the World Travel Awards Africa & Indian Ocean Gala Ceremony 2016. Can you tell us a little about how this came about and what ambitions the hotel has for the event?

AC: Hosting the World Travel Awards Africa & Indian Ocean Gala Ceremony 2016 at Diamonds La Gemma dell’Est in Zanzibar is one of the proudest moments in the resort’s history.

It is also an opportunity and endorsement for all in Zanzibar to showcase our offerings and reaffirm our country as a fast developing tourism destination in the world.

We not only aim to showcase and educate our guests on our Diamonds resorts but also with our authentic cultural interactions with the warm and vibrant local ethnic communities. Zanzibar is a progressive nation, bursting with local enthusiasm, talent and creativity.

More Information

For more information on Diamonds La Gemma dell’Est head over to the official website.