Kenya bans Tanzanian tour vans from airport

by Elayne Wangalwa 0

Kenya resorted to this move after the two countries failed to reach an amicable solution over the cross-border tourism dispute.

Cabinet Secretary for East African Affairs, Commerce and Tourism, Phyllis Kandie said that this will guarantee a level playing field, “Since Kenya has kept its part of the deal, but has been denied the same opportunity to operate in Tanzania”.

(READ MORE: Kenya & Tanzania’s tourism tiff )

In January, Tanzania’s government formed a task force to probe the factors behind Kenya’s move. However, after requesting for a ban imposed by Kenya in December barring Tanzanian tour vehicles from picking or dropping tourists at Kenyan airports to be lifted for three weeks, no talks were established.

“It is very unfortunate and I am deeply surprised by the turn of events. The meeting was called on request of Tanzania and they [Tanzania] cancelled on the eleventh hour and this is after Kenyan representatives were already there,” Waturi Matu, coordinator at the East African tourism platform told

“The representatives from Kenya were ready to seat and discuss the issue. They were ready to review the MOU [Memorandum of Understanding].”

At a meeting in February last year, both Tanzanian and Kenyan officials tried to negotiate new terms but failed to reach a common ground.

(READ MORE: Tanzania seeks to be Africa’s tourism hub)

The two governments agreed to collaborate diligently on a wide range of issues by reverting to the 1985 Bilateral Agreement on tourism operations allowing tourism vans to drop tourists at convenient points in their respective countries.

Under the agreement revived in March last year, tour vehicles from Kenya were only allowed to drop tourists at designated towns in Tanzania and the same applies for Tanzania. In the past the two countries pointed fingers at each other of policies that aim to protect their tour operators from regional competition.

“In my opinion the meeting needs to take place soon as the two states are both signatories of the Common Market Protocol. They should both exit from the bilateral agreement because of the Common Market Protocol,” Matu said.

The East African Common Market Protocol calls for free movement of goods, labour, capital and services in the region.

The tiff between the two states has been argued to be against the spirit of the East African Community (EAC) as well as the promotion of the EAC single tourist visa.