Friday, 17 March 2017

TANZANIA: EAC Tourism Plan, Tanzania Reluctant

Tanzania’s reluctance to implement regional integration projects came under sharp focus yesterday during this year’s magical Kenya Travel Expo in Nairobi.

Kenya, Rwanda and Uganda revived calls for a joint marketing campaign for the recovering tourism sector.

The three countries yesterday called on Tanzania to come on board in promoting the region as a package, through the single tourist visa.

“Tanzania has issues. It is the fear of the unknown and fear of competition. We need to grow beyond competition,” Tourism Cabinet Secretary Najib Balala said, adding “Kenya, Uganda and Rwanda see ourselves as complementary.”

Tanzania has given the regional initiative meant to facilitate access to all member states using a univisa a wide berth.

It has also refused to open up her border at the Mara River to allow movement of tourists flocking the region for the historic Wildebeest migration.

A diplomatic row between Kenya and Tanzania was also witnessed in the last two years over the ban of tour vehicles to access one another’s borders, an issue that is yet to be fully addressed.

“Eventually we will be looking to resolve these issues through dialogue. I am optimistic Tanzania will finally come on board.

Maybe we need to give them time,” Balala said at the annual fair.

Rwanda,Uganda and Kenya have implemented the single visa and use of national identification cards to cross to either sides.

The visa uptake has, however, remained low since its launch in February 2014, with only 4,000 visas having been issued so far.

The three governments cited lack of enough promotion, calling on high commissioners both in Africa and abroad to market the visa. Under the single visa regime, foreigners can visit Kenya, Uganda, and Rwanda at a fee of $100(Sh10,130 ), current exchange rate.

“High commissioners should emphasise we have a single visa. It is so unfortunate that tourists pay for different visas to enter the three countries yet they can have one visa,” East African Tourism Platform chairman Bonifence Byamukama said.

The three states have agreed to have a joint stand at the World Travel Market in London (November 7-9 ), to market the region.