Neighbours lock horns in tourism spat

A Tanzanian safari vehicle in Serengeti National Park. Photo: Daniel Hayduk

A Tanzanian safari vehicle in Serengeti National Park. Two East African neighbours are now locking horns over tour companies crossing borders. Photo: Daniel Hayduk

On Friday, Kenya re-established it’s ban on Tanzanian tourist vehicles at Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA) in Nairobi and at any parks in the country using a 30-year-old agreement.

The two tourism-driven nations have recently been at odds in a back-and-forth squabble over rights of tour companies in each other’s countries.

In January, Tanzania had requested a three-week timeframe to resolve the matter.

Those three weeks have expired and Kenya has decided to take action, says East African Affairs, Trade and Tourism Cabinet Secretary Phyllis Kandie.

“The three weeks had expired without convening the meeting for negotiations,” says Kandie.

As a result, Kandie says Kenya decided to handle the matter based on the 1985 agreement between the two countries so as, “to ensure fairness of the trade between the two countries.”

The agreement sets out guidelines on how tour companies carry out business in either country, and stipulates that Tanzanian tour vehicles can not take tourists to Kenyan parks or attractions without pre-approval.

Kenya’s actions are seen as retaliation to Tanzania’s refusal to open the Bolongoja border crossing between the Maasai Mara and Serengeti.

Furthermore, “Kenya’s ban implies that the JKIA has turned into a tourist attraction instead of an entry point,” says Minister for Tourism and Natural Resources Lazaro Nyalandu.

The East African Community has called for an immediate resolution to the matter.

Kenya and Tanzania are competitors in the tourism industry and attract over half of the nearly four million tourists visiting the region annually.

Approximately 400,000 tourists visiting Tanzania travel through Nairobi’s JKIA each year.

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