Thanda sets up shop in Tanzania
Thanda Island was officially opened on Friday 28 October by the District Commissioner of Mafia Island, Mr Shaibu Nunduma, to a gathering of 30 leading Tanzanian officials and dignitaries. The group also included Mr Kajitamus Osewe, Representative of the Honourable Minister responsible for Agriculture, Livestock and Fisheries, as well as the Representative of the Permanent Secretary of Fisheries, who delivered a personal note of congratulations and thanks from the Honourable Minister, Dr. Charles J. Tizeba (MP).
With marine life and its ecology of upmost importance, also present were the Vice Chairman of the Board of Marine Parks, Dr Katunga, and Lindsey West, Executive Director of Sea Sense, the local Tanzanian marine conservation NGO which Thanda Island closely supports.
Whether flying in from Dar es Salaam or just travelling out from Mafia Island, the group were transferred in James Bond-esq style by Mkora, the newly acquired solid mahogany 15m boat that has undergone an impressive refit. Warmly welcomed on arrival with champagne, refreshments and freshly made bites, guests proceeded with a tour of the island and an introduction to its facilities with Pierre Delvaux, Managing Director for Thanda Island.
Accustomed to hosting the extended Olofsson family, Thanda Island’s superb chef and her team prepared a feast that included a choice of Swahili dishes, tender beef fillet with mussel sauce and grilled giant prawn under the main verandah. Over the luncheon, Pierre Delvaux chronicled Thanda Island’s story that began in early 2006 cumulating in its environmental authorization in late 2013, the signing of the lease agreement in March 2014 and the beginning of the villa’s construction in early 2015.
He went on to explain the vision and objectives for the development to provide a world-class, 5-star, exclusive private island and villa experience for discerning vacationers, whilst also aligning with the objectives of Marine Parks.
Delvaux went on to say: “Our mission is also to become involved in the education of neighbouring rural communities on Mafia in terms of biodiversity protection and particularly sustainable natural resource utilization. Our vision to create a unique and authentic guest experience within a protected marine reserve, whilst observing and directly participating in the protection and preservation of its natural resources in harmony with the Marine Parks Authority and neighbouring Mafia Island communities, has been very important to us right from the start.”
Acknowledging this, Dr M.E Machunu, Manager of Marine Parks said: “The luxury villa and island development falls squarely within the Tanzanian agenda of attracting foreign investors to the country. This opening is both momentous and historical, as it is the first time that such an exclusive villa development has been permitted within the boundaries of a Marine Protected Reserve in Tanzania, and possibly within East Africa.”
He thanked Thanda sincerely for their commitment and initiative of investing in such a worthwhile development, explaining that the Government’s agenda to promote tourism was in harmony with conservation through sustainable development that not only assisted them to manage their natural resources, but also created employment and other benefits for neighbouring communities.
He went on to explain that the Government was supporting tourism more than ever before, that Marine Parks and the Government were committed to supporting Thanda Tanzania Limited with this venture as it had followed all investment procedures and guidelines, including environmental authorization, and that they saw Thanda as an agent for growth in the region.
Pierre Delvaux wrapped up the day by thanking Dan and Christin Olofsson, who unfortunately were unable to attend the function, for their vision, enthusiasm, investment and commitment to developing such a world-class luxury villa hotel that had the opportunity to make such an enormous difference in the region in so many ways.