SUNDAY August 9, 2020
By Adam Ihucha
Tranquility News Correspondent, Arusha
Tanzania’s state-run conservation and tourism agency has named the founder and Managing Director of Zara International Travel Agency (ZITA), Mrs Zainab Ansell, the best tour operator of the year 2020, proving her extraordinary efforts to shape the multi-billion-dollar tourism industry.
This is the second year in a row the female tour operator is recognised as the best tour operator after she scooped the overall winner in the male dominated industry in the maiden Tanzania National Parks’ (TANAPA) prestigious awards in 2019.
Mrs Zainab Ansell was particularly celebrated as an extraordinary woman who fought extremely hard to emerge at the top of the male-controlled business and shape the tourism industry through her dedication, hard work and innovation. She positioned herself as an exemplary leader in the industry and helped her company stand out of the crowd.
“This certifies that Zara Tanzania Adventures has been awarded the best tour operator 1st prize for an outstanding business contribution among tour companies engaging in mountain climbing activity,” reads the certificate of recognition which the Natural Resources and Tourism Minister, Dr Hamis Kigwangalla, handed over to her during the Thursday August 6, 2020, award gala.
Zara Group of companies was also feted as the overall runner-up for immense business input among tour firms operating in the popular Tanzania’s northern tourism circuit comprising Serengeti — the country’s flagship national park — and Mount Kilimanjaro, Tarangire, Manyara and Arusha.
As if that was not enough, Zara Tours was also honoured the best tour firm among its peers in selling walking safaris. Her Serengeti Wild Camp also scooped the 3rd position as the best seasonal camp for its significant business contribution.
Internationally, Mrs Zainab Ansell was last year recognised for innovating appropriate model for transferring tourists’ dollars to hundreds of poor women in Tanzania.
During the Global Gender Summit (GGS) 2019 in Kigali, Rwanda, she was awarded in recognition of her innovation and sustainable business model that has uplifted and impacted hundreds of marginalised women in the tourism host communities of Tanzania.
“Congratulations to Zainab Ansell, Winner of the Invest2impact for creating jobs, improving lives and fighting climate change within her communities,” writes Impact Award, the organisers.
Mrs Zainab Ansell, the founder and CEO of the Tanzania-based ZITA, is fighting to address historical injustice compounded by oppression and exploitation towards women in Northern Tanzania’s Maasai community.
She is credited for developing a special window for helping underprivileged Maasai women in her bid to liberate them from poverty, courtesy of harmful shackles of their traditional norms. She empowers them financially by buying raw materials for them to make beads and crafts and sell the ornaments to tourists.
Through her women’s development centre, hundreds of Maasai women have benefit from tourism, as the sector provides them with an opportunity for showcasing and selling the curios along the routes to the Tanzania’s most popular tourist sites.
This initiative has grown to become a strong economic pillar for women, particularly in the pastoral community.
Zara Tanzania Adventures (Alias Zara Tours) is a local company, which Mrs Zainab Ansell founded in 1986 in Moshi, Tanzania, to provide high quality travel and tour services in East Africa.
With an experience of over 30 years in the Travel and Tourism industry, Zara Tours has evolved into Tanzania’s largest Kilimanjaro outfitter and one of the largest safari operators in East Africa. It is a one-stop shop offering experiences and accommodation in Tanzania’s tourism hotspots.
In 2009, the company launched Zara Charity to give back to marginalised communities, making its footprint in the global movement for sustainable tourism development.
Zara Charity supports marginalised communities in Tanzania’s tourism host communities by addressing healthcare, education, unemployment, women and children’s challenges.
Zara Tours has been widely recognised for promoting Sustainable Tourism Development in Africa, making Mrs Zainab Ansell a multi-award winner.
She has received over 13 local and international awards, including the World Travel Market (WTM) Humanitarian Award, the Business Entrepreneur of the Year Award (2012), the Iconic Tourism for The Future Awards (2015) and the African Travel Top 100 Women.
Mrs Zainab Ansell has also been recognised and awarded for being the Most Influential Woman in Business and Government for her achievements in East Africa’s Tourism and Leisure Sector 2018/2019 during the CEO GLOBAL Pan-African Awards. Tanzania National Parks also recognised Zara Tours as Tanzania’s best Tour Operator (2019).
“Zara Tours’ presence has an impact on thousands of lives in Tanzania by directly employing over 1,400 people on both permanent and seasonal basis, sustaining thousands of families in a country with a relatively high unemployment rate,” said the Tanzania Association of Tour Operators (TATO) CEO, Mr Sirili Akko, adding:
“TATO is proud of the Zara Tours founder and CEO for her generous heart to support the underprivileged.”
Mrs Zainab Ansell, whose Group of companies stand out of the Tanzania’s 1,401 tour firms’ crowd to clinch a series of awards, briefly explains on the firms in the following video captured shortly after she emerged the overall winner during the first edition of the Best Tour Operator awards to be organised by TANAPA in June last year.