Kenya to Re­solve Tourism Stale­mate

Diplomat East Africa - - Table of Contents - BY STAFF WRITER

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.

MAS­SIVE CAM­PAIGN

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

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