As part of Kenya drive towards quality tourism and to further shed the image of being a cheap destination has the Minister for Tourism urged safari operators to move away from the use of the conventional mini busses and use purpose built 4×4 vehicles, which project the right image for safari tourism. In neighbouring Tanzania but also in Rwanda and Uganda is the use of mini busses shunned in favour of the sturdier and original safari vehicles, built on chassis of Land rover or Toyota Land cruiser make while in Kenya the use of the 9 seater mini vans of Nissan or Toyota make are more widespread and only classy upmarket operators are using the more expensive, but also more durable 4x4s.
The minister was speaking at the Annual General Meeting of KATO Kenya Association of Tour Operators last week, when he cited the provisions of the new tourism act giving his ministry the powers to regulate such changes.
In response did several tour company executives however get in touch with this correspondent, pointing out that in the words of one: it is fair and good what the minister says but let no one be fooled, this has to be a longish process, not to be done overnight and the cost of the 4x4s has to be reduced by scrapping import duties and taxes on them, otherwise they will be far too expensive for many tour companies. This has been promised for long and not happened, so let the minister fight for that in cabinet first and be implemented before he throws new demands at us. We have suggested that taxes and duties be fully removed from special safari vehicles and only come into effect when we sell the cars after their useful lifespan comes to an end after a few years use. Fair words and comments it must be said with a word of caution though, that such new regulations and plans must be broadly discussed and agreed and not dictated to the industry by a ministry looking only at one aspect and not considering logistics, financing and bottom lines.