Kenya to Resolve Tourism Stalemate
Talks to smoothen out cross-border tourist movement between Kenya and Tanzania are at an advanced stage. Delegations from the Tanzanian and Kenyan tourism sector have met in Arusha to settle a dispute between the two countries after authorities in Kenya banned Tanzanian-registered tour vehicles from picking tourists from the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport ( JKIA) and shuttling them to various destinations in Moshi and Arusha.
The ban, reportedly precipitated by Kenyan tour operators who demanded the re-opening of the Bologonja entry point that led to Serengeti and Ngorongoro National Parks in Tanzania, affected over 150 Tanzanian tour shuttles, inconvenienced hundreds of tourists and led to a strain in relations between the two East Africa Community (EAC) member states.
Most visitors coming to the East Africa are known to region visit at least two or three countries. The ban is a huge inconvenience to them – and tour operators - intending to crossover from Kenya to Tanzania and vice versa.
It was explained that the ban was on Tanzanian shuttles pick-
ing tourists in Nairobi city centre to JKIA. But vehicles crossing the border were allowed to enter the Airport.
Although there was no official statement issued to justify the ban, sources say it was Kenya’s way of retaliating after Tanzania refused to allow Kenyan-registered vans to take tourists directly to national parks in Tanzania.
According to Tanzania’s minister of natural resources and tourism Lazaro Nyalandu, the ban violated a 1985 consensual agreement between the Kenyan and Tanzanian governments countries signifying that Kenyan tourist vehicles should not be allowed into Tanzania’s national parks. The move was aimed at protecting and empowering Tanzanian tour operators.
As we went to press there were reports that the Kenyan government had lifted the ban following the talks, which brought together professionals from both countries to outline the working modalities for visitors.
Nyalandu said at a press conference in Dar es Salaam that the talks would resolve issues of cooperation and effective coordination and that tour operations would run smoothly once again.
The talks, said Nyalandu who had earlier met in Nairobi with Kenya’s Secretary for East African affairs Phyllis Kandie, were meant to lay down strong foundations for mutual dialogue when the need occurs.
It was important to maintain and strengthen the historical, cultural and bilateral relations between the two countries, said the Minister, stressing that small hitches would not be allowed to ruin the tourism industry, a major source of income for the two countries.
Last year, Tanzania recorded the highest foreign exchange earned from tourism revenue. And even though tourism in Kenya suffered several blows last year, it is still a major foreign exchange earner for the economy.
Tanzania and Kenya are major tourism competitors and both attract quite a huge number of tourists annually.
Meanwhile, Tanzania launched a massive tourism campaign through roadshows in three cities in America’s West Coast - Los Angeles, San Fransisco and Seattle.
Dr Adelhelm Meru, the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Natural Resources and Tourism, said the campaign would help in promoting the country’s tourist attractions in the cities.
“We are confident that 2015 will be a year of continued growth from the American market especially since destination Tanzania is on so many ‘hot lists’ of places to go.”
The West Coast was one of the largest tourism generating markets for Tanzania, said Devota Mdachi, acting Managing Director of the Tanzania Tourist Board. The number of tourists from the area has been on the rise, especially since Ethiopian Airlines opened its new gateway in Los Angeles and Turkish Airlines too, opened a new gateway in San Francisco.
Tanzania Tourist Board’s marketing efforts in the USA translated into a seven per cent increase in American visitors in 2013 - up from 65,110 in 2012 to 69,671 in 2013, making the US Tanzania’s second largest tourism source market worldwide.
Tanzania became the top destination of 2015 for the American traveler. It was named one of the ‘Best Places to travel in 2015’ by Travel + Leisure, featured in the ’52 Places To Go In 2015’ by The New York Times and Tanzania’s Ruaha National Park was featured on Afar Magazine’s ‘2015 Where to Go’ list.
The recognitions are due to the fact that Tanzania, in addition to having three of Africa’s natural wonders of the world, is viewed as a peaceful and stable destination, rich in history and cultural diversity.
The aim of the promotional campaign is to show support for Tanzania’s American tourism partners, agents, tour operators, airlines and media as well as to provide an update on the expanding tourism products, new infrastructures and air connections
Last year, Tanzania recorded the highest foreign exchange earned from tourism revenue.
And even though tourism in Kenya suffered several blows last year, it is still a major foreign exchange earner for the economy