Kenyan tour operators have raised concerns that Tanzanian tour vehicles are still entering Kenyan tourist sites and airports despite a signed bilateral agreement between the two countries barring them from the sites.
The Kenyan tour firms say that while the Tanzanian authorities are strictly following the bilateral agreement to protect their tour operators from regional competition, the Kenyan authorities have been lax in implementing the agreement.
In the bilateral agreement signed in March last year in Arusha, the two countries agreed to revert to their 1985 bilateral agreement as an interim measure to resolve their differences over free movement of tourists across their borders.
“Kenya has not implemented this agreement since it was signed. Tanzanian tour vans are still entering our tourist sites freely despite restrictions on their side for our tour vans,” said Minaz Manji, chief executive officer of Twiga Tours in Kenya.
Waturi Matu, the co-ordinator of the East African Tourism Platform, said that it is possible for both countries to mutually recognise each other’s licensing regimes, which would effectively eliminate tariff and non-tariff barriers.
According to Fred Kaigwa, chairman of the Kenya Tour Operators Association, the Kenyan government has promised to start implementing the agreement, which will see Tanzanian vehicles barred from entering wildlife parks or airports in the country.
“We expect that the agreement will be reviewed soon to allow free movement and access to each country’s tourist sites,” said Mr Kaigwa.
Tanzania Tourism Federation executive secretary Richard Rugimbana said the country is implementing the agreement as it waits for the harmonisation of EAC tourism laws.
“Tanzania will also need to review its Tourism Act to allow foreign commercial vehicles entry into national parks,” said Mr Rugimbana. Tanzania’s Tourism Act 2008 stipulates that foreign registered tour operator vehicles are not allowed entry into tourist sites. EAC partner state-registered tourist vehicles are considered foreign.