Empowering local communities in Zanzibar with Street View

Boosting international awareness is a priority for any destination that relies on tourism to grow its economy, and Zanzibar is no exception. So when it came to creating economic impact for their country, the Zanzibar Planning Commission was determined to showcase the beauty of their archipelago – and Street View was there to help. Together with professional photographers Federico Debetto, Nickolay Omelchenko, and Chris du Plessis from World Travel in 360 (WT360), they initiated Project Zanzibar and inspired local communities to continue the project on their own.

Google Street View Empowering local communities in Zanzibar

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1,700 km


980 thousand

images published

33 million


105 hotels


Driving growth together

Mapping at scale is a challenge. So the WT360 team joined forces with twelve student volunteers from the State University of Zanzibar to help map the beautiful island of Unguja. Guided by the expertise of Federico, Nickolay, and Chris, they captured 1,700 kilometers of footage.

Tourism contributes more than 30% to our GDP. As a result, we are able to train our youth, and those who already work in the tourism industry. There have been times where people have perceived tourism to be about hotels. Tourism is more than that. You've got history, you've got airlines, and you've got the marketing side. Having more Zanzibaris engaging in the industry will be a big benefit for the government, and for the economy of the country.


Simai Mohammed Said, Minister of Tourism and Heritage of Zanzibar.

As Zanzibar evolves, Federico’s team regularly refreshes 360 images of local streets to help support infrastructure development, and attract new visitors to the country.

Google Street View street photo from Feberico Debetto in Zanzibar

Taking businesses global with 360 imagery

Earlier this year, Federico began exploring the northern island of Pemba. In just 6 days, Federico and Ibrahim Khalid, a former student volunteer, captured over 500 kilometers of images and 40 aerial panoramas, which they uploaded to Google Maps using Street View Studio.

With accurate footage of tourist attractions, heritage sites, hotels, and businesses, they were able to create the National Global Tour of Zanzibar, an imagery platform that has been growing quickly and that promotes the islands worldwide.

From mapping to job creation

When Federico first met Shamymu Yassin, she was a student who was hoping to become a drone pilot. Driven by the commitment to enhance Zanzibar's future, Shamymu turned to the WT360 team to learn about Street View technology. She was taught the best camera to use, how to capture images, and how to upload them to Google Maps. Shamymu soon mastered these skills and went on to become a professional photographer, exploring and mapping Zanzibar's islands for a living.

Federico, Shamymu, and Ibrahim are currently working on uploading new aerial images of Zanzibar, with a focus on the latest developed areas, new businesses, and renovated hotels. And with the opening of Zanzibar's amusement park, their mission keeps growing.

Mapping at scale in Zanzibar: smarter and faster data publishing with Street View Studio

Image and camera quality has improved since 2019, and with the launch of Street View Studio publishing imagery has become easier and faster. Photographers can upload multiple 360 videos at the same time, monitor progress, search for uploaded material by place or original filename, and plan for their future collections using interactive map layers.


We published the whole of Pemba island using Street View Studio. The main improvements of the tool are organizational based, such as being able to resume paused or disrupted uploads, and uploading several videos together without the need to wake up in the night to add new files. This saved us a lot of sleeping hours!


Federico Debetto, professional photographer


Building the future

Project Zanzibar started with the goal to empower and educate local students to map their country, and has since made a global impact. Three years in, the project has brought local businesses to the fore, and unlocked career opportunities for former volunteers like Shamymu and Ibrahim.

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