In Zanzibar town you will undoubtedly come into contact with street touts. In Swahili they are known as Papasi (ticks) especially if your arrival is by boat. They are not registered as guides with the Zanzibar Commission for Tourism (ZCT), although they may carry (fake) identification cards, and while a few can be helpful, others can be aggressive and irritating. The main place that you’ll encounter them are at the ferry dock in Zanzibar Town – where they can be quite overwhelming, especially if it’s your first visit to the region – and in the Shangani area around Tembo House Hotel and the post office. Many of the more annoying ones are involved with drug trade and are desperate for money for their next fix, which means you’re just asking for trouble if you arrange anything with them.
One of the bad things they do is trying to lie to visitors who booked upfront, so they can take them to another hotel where they know they’ll get a better commission. If they tell you your hotel of choice no longer exist or is full, or is dirty, or is not safe etc, take it with a grain of salt, as it could well be that they just want to take you somewhere where they know they’ll get a better commission.
Princess Salme Inn offers to its arriving client’s free ferry pick up. If you would prefer this service let us know your arrival time. Another strategy is to make your way out of the port arrivals are and head straight for a taxi. This will not cost you more than $ 2.00 as because Princess Salme Inn is very near to the ferry port. Taxi drivers look for hotel commissions as well, but most are legitimate and once are ‘spoken for ‘, hassles from touts usually diminish.
Most Papasi will hope that your stay on the island will mean ongoing work for them as your guide, so if you do use one to help you find a hotel, they’ll invariably be outside waiting for you later. If you’re not interested in this, explain (politely) once you‘ve arrived at your hotel. If you want a guide to show you around Stone Town it is better to arrange one with your hotel or a travel agency. For any dealings with the Papasi, if you’re being hassled, a polite but firm approach usually works best – yelling or showing irritation, although quite tempting at times, just makes things worse. Another thing to remember is that you have a better chance of getting a discount on your hotel room if you arrive alone, since the hotel can then give you the discount that would have been paid to the touts as commission.
When arranging tours and excursions, never make payments on the street – be sure you’re paying at a legitimate office and get a receipt.