Kenya lets Tanzania tourist vans in

Kenya yesterday lifted the ban it slapped on tourism vans shuttling between Arusha and Nairobi through Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA), pending a review of a bilateral agreement signed in 1985.

Kenya Tourism minister Phyllis Kandie told journalists in his office in Nairobi that the vans were since yesterday free to pick and drop tourists at the JKIA as well as at the country’s tourist attractions.

Flanked by his Tanzanian counterpart Lazaro Nyalandu, Ms Kandie said a meeting would be held in three weeks’ time to revisit the bilateral agreement between Tanzania and Kenya.

The agreement forbids vans from either country from carrying tourists directly to national parks and other tourist attractions.

Tanzania has been enforcing the agreement aimed at protecting its tour operators from regional competition. Its 2008 Tourism Act says ‘foreign tour operator vehicles are not allowed entry into tourist sites countrywide’.

However, Kenya had since not fully implemented the agreement, triggering complaints from players in its tourism industry over unfair treatment they get in Tanzania.

The complaints prompted the government of Kenya to suddenly ban shuttle buses ferrying tourists directly to JKIA from Arusha as part of the implementation of the agreement.

Mr Nyalandu argued, however: “Unless Kenya say the JKIA is a tourist attraction, airports are not part of the agreement.”

Some analysts following the standoff argue that the Kenyan move was against the spirit of the East African Community (EAC).

Both ministers declined to divulge details on the misinterpretation of the agreement, insisting that those were some of the challenges to be ironed out in the next meeting in Arusha.

Director of Finance and Corporate Services of Kilimanjaro Development Company (Kadco) Bakari Murusuri said they had never barred Kenyan vehicles from picking or dropping tourists at the Kilimanjaro International Airport (Kia).

“There has been no circular from the government to that effect,” Mr Murusuri said in a telephone interview with The Citizen yesterday.
Source: The Citizen, reported by  Patty Magubira from Arusha, Tanzania
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