Dar tour operators, hotel owners protest Kenya's move to re-open border

Tuesday April 4 2017

Tourists at the Masai Mara, in Kenya. A new report says tourist arrivals in the country could drop. Photo/FILE AFP

Tourists at the Masai Mara, in Kenya. Kenya is seeking to create a shortcut into wildlife reserves in northern Tanzania through the Sand River Gate inside the Maasai Mara Game Reserve. .PHOTO|AFP 

By APOLINARI TAIRO

Tour operators and hotel owners in Tanzania have protested a plan by Kenya to reopen the Sand River and Bologonja border entry points, saying it augurs badly for conservation and tourism.

Narok County is seeking to create a shortcut into wildlife reserves in northern Tanzania through the Sand River Gate inside the Maasai Mara Game Reserve.

Tanzania Association of Tour Operators executive secretary Sirili Akko told The EastAfrican that they are pushing for the permanent closure of Bologonja border.

“Our association is opposed to current developments on the Kenyan side, which we believe would have an adverse economic and environmental impact on the Serengeti ecosystem if the Bologonja border is opened to allow tourists from Kenya to pass into northern Tanzania,” said Mr Akko.

The Bologonja border was closed in 1977 after the breakup of the former East African Community.

The Narok County government is rehabilitating the Sand River Gate office and the national government is constructing an immigration office to process tourists travelling between Maasai Mara Game Reserve and Serengeti National Park.

Kenya’s Tourism Cabinet Secretary Najib Balala was quoted by a South African magazine in February as saying the $1 million project would serve tourists travelling between Maasai Mara and Serengeti, and the Sand River immigration office would serve tourists from both countries.

He said that the current route from the Mara Game Reserve to Tanzania was too long as it takes up to five hours to drive tourists from Maasai-Mara to Serengeti through Migori- Sirari border point.

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