Dar, Nairobi row ‘has affected tourism,’ say stakeholders

The ongoing tiff between Kenya and Tanzania is damaging the growth of tourism sector, investors in the industry have said.
Mohamed Hersi, Chairman of Kenya Tourism Federation and the Director of Operations at Poll- mans Tours and Safaris, said the friction that seems to be escalating is unfortunate, particularly at a time when the world is facing the novel COVID-19 pandemic.
“It is quite unnecessary. This friction and misunderstanding needs to be solved once and for all to enable the friendly states to get back to normal,” he said.
Hersi pointed out that there was little that the two East African states are fighting over, considering that the region attracts far less tourists than other global destinations.
He said that Africa combined ac- counts for a paltry five per cent and half of all the international arrivals into the continent go to North Afri- ca, largely due to proximity to key source market in Europe. The re- mainder goes to the rest of Africa.
He called the urgent need to embrace intra-Africa trav- el, which has a lot of potential hence the need for African states to work closely with each other.
Paul Kurgat, Chairman of Tour- ism Professional Association noted that there is need to en- gage in urgent talks to break the stalemate over airspace access. Tanzania slammed the door on Kenya Airways flights into its ter- ritories early last month in a move seen as retaliatory following Kenya’s decision to leave out its neighbour’s airlines from flying into the country. It was followed by another ban by Tanzania’s authorities on low-cost carriers Fly 540, Air Kenya and Safari Link last week. “Reference is made to the ap- proval for your summer sched- ule application extended to Air Kenya Express. The approval was granted to Air Kenya for schedule flight operations between Nai- robi and Kilimanjaro with effect from March 27 to October 25. However, we regret to inform you that this approval is hereby nullified,” Hamza Johari, TCAA Di- rector-General said in a letter to Air Kenya’s operations manager.
The three airlines oper- ate daily flights to and from Kilimanjaro and Zanzibar.
Kurgat said that while the world airspace is slowly opening up with flight resumptions, it was disheart- ening to see the two nations deny each other the essential service.
“Businesses are hurting big time. We urge President Uhu- ru Kenyatta and his Tanzanian counterpart, President John Ma- gufuli, to end the stalemate and ensure normalcy returns,” he said.
Early last month, TCAA had said it would not allow any Kenya Airways (KQ) flights between Nai- robi, Dar es Salaam, Kilimanjaro
and Zanzibar effective August 1. “This also rescinds our previ- ous arrangements that permit KQ flights into the Republic of Tanzania,” the statement added. But responding to claims of a diplomatic row, James Macharia, Kenya’s Transport Cabinet Sec- retary, denied that there was one, which was possibly hurting move- ment between the two countries. “We have not banned anyone,” he said. Macharia explained that Kenya only assessed the risk to al- low travellers from certain coun- tries with the COVID-19 certificate. Kenya has since increased the list of countries allowed entry without the mandatory 14-day quarantine to 100, with Tanzania still missing.