, NAIROBI, Kenya, Jan 16 – Kenya and Tanzania are in three weeks time expected to find an amicable solution to allow tour vans from the neighbouring country drop and pick up tourists at Nairobi’s Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA).
The announcement was made after a closed-door meeting on Friday between the visiting Tanzania’s Natural Resources and Tourism Minister Lazaro Nyalandu and Kenya’s Tourism Cabinet Secretary Phyllis Kandie.
“Three weeks from today, a bilateral meeting will take place; it will be comprehensive, and it will discuss all the issues that we may have bilaterally so that we can facilitate the private sector to grow tourism between the two countries,” Kandie said at a media briefing after the meeting.
On December 22 last year, Kenyan authorities put a ban on Tanzanian-registered vehicles from dropping off or picking up passengers at JKIA. This followed claims that Tanzania had continued to deny Kenyan-registered vans to take tourists directly to Tanzania airports and national parks.
“We are not competitors and if there are any issues that are outstanding between our ministries we should meet and discuss to iron out those issues. And that is why Mr Nyalandu has come to visit us in Kenya so that we can discuss issues of mutual benefits,” Kandie added.
The CS says in the meantime, Kenya will facilitate transport to and from JKIA, indicating that it is still not ready to lift the ban for Tanzania to access the airport.
“We have also agreed that in order not to disrupt and inconvenience tourists, Kenya will help in the transfer of tourists within those three weeks,” she said adding that this will be through partnership with local transporters.
In March last year the two East African States reverted to their 1985 bilateral agreement as an interim measure to resolve their differences in efforts to protect the multi-million-dollar tourism industry.
Under the agreement tour vans from Kenya are only allowed to drop tourists at designated towns in Tanzania and vice versa as opposed to leaving them at the border points or going to undesignated areas in either of the countries.
But Tanzania’s Tourism Minister says he is optimistic that a solution will be found considering the good relations Kenya has had with Tanzania.
“I think it is important that we continue with this tradition of making sure that we leave behind our fears, so that we can be driven with what is constructive and what can be of mutual benefit to our people,” Nyalandu said during the media briefing.
It is estimated that nearly 40 percent of about one million tourists visiting Tanzania annually pass through JKIA before crossing overland into the Tanzania national parks.