Tour firms protest Tanzanian vans ‘invasion’

Cabinet Secretary for East Africa Affairs Commerce and Tourism Phyllis Kandie with Tanzania’s Minister for Natural Resources and Tourism Lazaro Nyalandu during the talks on January 16, 2015. PHOTO | ANTHONY OMUYA |

What you need to know:

  • Spat between the two countries brings to the fore frosty relations among them.
  • Operators say that since Kenyan cars cannot enter nation, reverse should also be the case here.

Kenyan tour operators are protesting a decision to back down on an earlier move blocking Tanzanian tour vans from entering the country in what threatens to expose the two nations’ frosty relations.

Players are demanding that Tanzania should reciprocate in the spirit of East Africa integration.

Kenya Tourism Federation, the umbrella body for tour operators, said Tanzania is applying double standards in the diplomatic spat in which the two nations have since called for a three-week truce to give negotiations time.

“It does not make sense when our tour operators cannot expressly go into Tanzania yet we allow their operators to pick and drop tourists within our territory,” federation Chief Executive Agatha Juma said in an interview.

Two weeks ago, Kenya blocked Tanzanian tourist vans from picking and dropping travellers from the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport in Nairobi.

The decision was taken after it emerged that Tanzanian authorities have for long not been allowing Kenyan vehicles into their territory.

'UNBALANCED SCENARIO'

The bone of contention stems from a 1985 bilateral agreement on tourism, which stated that operators from either country are to hand over and/or pick visitors at border points.

While Tanzania has been implementing the deal to the detriment of Kenyan operators, Kenya is said to have not been fully implementing the agreement.

“It is a very unbalanced scenario because one party is not playing ball and this does not make sense for Kenya,” said Mrs Juma.

Last week, East African Affairs and Tourism Cabinet Secretary Phyllis Kandie and Tanzanian Minister for Natural Resources and Tourism Lazaro Nyalandu met in Nairobi.

They agreed on a three-week ceasefire to give room for talks although Kenyan vans will still be locked out during that period.

Meanwhile, the Kenya Tourism Board is set to visit three key growth markets this month in a bid to reassure visitors that the country is safe and open for business.

The board managing director, Mr Muriithi Ndegwa, is scheduled to meet various tourism stakeholders, including key media representatives in Australia, India and China.

The three are a major emerging market for Kenya with high growth potential.

“The objective of the reassurance visits is to enhance media engagement in an effort to re-build confidence in the destination and strengthen Kenya’s profile in the markets,” Mr Ndegwa said.

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