Scribes who travelled from Nairobi to Arusha, expecting the long awaited meeting between the two protagonists in the East African Community to sit down and present each other with their respective wish lists, will be disappointed to have done the trip in vain.
Following a meeting in Nairobi, aimed to restore critical access for Tanzanian tour operators to the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport, was an agreement reached to meet today in Arusha, giving each side time to draw up an agenda for the meeting.
It however now appears, according to comments and feedback received from both countries’ tourism stakeholders, that the two weeks were apparently not enough to more widely consult and come up with a comprehensive list of demands, leading to a new agreement to substitute the 1985 accord.
The delay is in stark contrast with comments made by Tanzania’s Minister for Natural Resources and Tourism last week in Dar es Salaam, where he was reported to have affirmed his commitment to have the matter resolved ‘immediately’ and yet has that time frame now be stretched by a further at least two weeks with no assurance that the meeting will not once again be postponed nearer to the time.
Tanzania’s confidence to market herself as a preferred safari tourism destinations got a boost when being named in America as one of the must visit destinations this year. New film material will according to a source close to the Tanzania Tourism Board also be used to promote the destination and give it a new sheen while various regions of the country endowed with tourism attractions have equally stepped up their own efforts to hard sell their resorts and safari lodges.
Going down history lane to the days of the ‘old’ East African Community were safaris the mainstream business for tourism operators, covering all three member states back then, Uganda, Kenya and Tanzania. There is consensus among leading stakeholders that it must be a goal to restore such circuits across the region if East Africa is to more effectively compete with South Africa and SADC member countries like Namibia, Botswana, Zambia and Zimbabwe.