Kenya Association of Hotelkeepers and Caterers (Kahc) Coast branch executive, Mr Sam Ikwaye said Tanzaniahas remained adamant over its stand not to allow Kenyan tour operators access to its parks.
“This is a sad scenario though. The situation seems not to be ending soon and with this the big dream of realising a Common East African Community (EAC) market,’’ Ikwaye said.
Another Mombasa hotelier, Robert Kiri, General Manager of Sai Roc Beach Hotel termed Tanzania’s stand as retrogressive and unfair to the rest of the EAC member states.
“It is an unfair practice taking into consideration that we are in the umbrella of EAC,” he said. Kiri said the move further kills the spirit of free movement within the EAC region.
Ikwaye added that the stalemate will also affect common market, standardisation, making integration a long distant dream.
Excerpts contained in a local weekly, The Arusha Times, indicate that Tanzania government has not relaxed or even responded to plea by Kenyan tour drivers and operators to be allowed entry intoTanzania.
This is despite the coming into force of the EAC Common Market Protocol, which guarantees free movement of people and services.
Responding to recent queries raised by tour operators from Kenya on mistreatment by Tanzanian authorities, a senior official of the Community Secretariat said the two countries have a binding agreement to off-load tourists crossing borders.
“Even with the regional integration spirit, it will take some time for the EAC protocols to override bilateral agreements between the partners states or involving them with other countries”, he said, speaking on condition of anonymity.
The official said he was aware of an agreement signed by the two founder members of the Community in 1985 on how to handle tourists crossing borders, mostly those entering Tanzania from Kenya.
“Off loading of tourists is among the agreements made by the two countries”, he pointed out.
However, the official declined to divulge more details on the matter, saying he did not have an update on the issue.
He said that further clarification should be sought from senior officials of EAC. Last week Kenya government said it would lodge a formal complaint with the EAC Secretariat against Tanzania.
Cabinet Secretary for EAC Affairs, Tourism and Commerce Ms Phllyis Kandie was quoted saying she will raise this thorny issue at the regional level because the EAC Common Market protocol guarantees free movement of people, goods, capital and services.” Kenyan tour drivers say that they are denied entry into Tanzania through the four main border posts of Namanga, Sirari, Horohoro and Holili. They are forced to hire Tanzania-registered vehicles and drivers to take the visitors to selected spots in Tanzania.