No tourism van ban retaliation planned

Tanzania won't retaliate for Kenya's van ban at JKIA and teams on both sides of the border are working to find a solution. Photo: Daniel Hayduk

Tanzania won’t retaliate for Kenya’s tourism van ban at JKIA and teams on both sides of the border are working to find a solution. Photo: Daniel Hayduk

Tanzania won’t strike back at Kenya for re-instating a tourism van ban using a 30-year-old agreement to block Tanzanian tour companies from entering Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA) in Nairobi.

Minister for East African Cooperation Harrison Mwakyembe says Tanzania is taking the high-road by allowing Kenyan tourism vehicles to enter Tanzanian airports.

“We are not going to do what our neighbour has,” says Mwakyembe, who described Kenya’s move as undiplomatic.

“Tanzania will continue to allow vehicles registered in any of the countries to receive and send tourists to all our airports because airports are not part of our tourist attractions.”

Mwakyembe says as both parties are working to resolve the issue Tanzania will respect Kenya’s decision to ban tourism vehicles from JKIA, despite it not being part of the 1985 agreement.

“This is not a matter to be resolved by two ministers alone and giving each other ultimatums. The 1985 agreement has been maintaining sanity in the tourism industry between our two countries, which share almost the same nature of attractions.”

Playing it cool, Mwakyembe says it’s the issue is a “small matter” that won’t cause the Tanzanian tourism industry to have a heart attack.

Over the weekend, the issue turned into a Twitter battle with parties on both sides of the border accusing each other of playing foul. It resulted in

According to the ministry, experts from both countries are already working to resolve the matter and review the bilateral agreement.

“We are doing our own analysis of the matter,” says ministry permanent secretary Joyce Mapunjo.

“The question here is why they are trying to force things now, 30 years after the agreement was signed,” says Mapunjo, noting that Tanzania’s portion of the tourism market is growing.

 Last week, 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 others’ countries.

In January, Tanzania had requested a three-week time-frame to resolve the matter but failed to meet with Kenyan authorities.

Read more: Tourism battle takes to Twitter

Read more: Neighbours lock horns in tourism spat

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