The announcement of “progress” and reaching an agreement between Tanzania and Kenya during last week’s meeting in Arusha was quickly shot down in flames by significant sections of the safari tour operator fraternity in Kenya.
“A lot of hullaballoo about fundamentally nothing new,” wrote one regular source, while another wrote, “Where is the breakthrough the media are harping on about? We were already able to drop clients in Arusha or Moshi, so that is not new at all. There are shuttle busses running between Arusha and JKIA and Nairobi again; there is nothing new about that. Key issues like the Bologonja border were again omitted for the sake of political expediency. Balala raised these issues, but since he left, his successors seem overly concerned not to ruffle feathers with their colleagues in Tanzania. Sort out Bologonja, sort out air access from Wilson to the Tanzanian parks, sort out access for our vehicles to the Tanzanian parks, and THEN talk about progress. This was just a political stage show, nothing else. Nothing has changed.”
A Ugandan source summed up their sentiments with a comment on the EATP Facebook page when writing: “In Tanzania, they don’t allow tourist guides from other countries to access their tourist sites. They ask you to use a local Tanzanian guide or tour operator. In Kenya, you pay up to $300 per vehicle. But in Uganda, it is free entrance. What does this mean?”
Criticism was also voiced over a common logo revealed at the EAC meeting in Arusha for being unprofessional and failing to highlight the main issue, marketing the region as one tourism destination with many attractions.
“This logo is non-descript, there is a total lack of relevance and relationship to tourism. And borderless borders? Far from it, in fact. Borders are there and enforced as the other hotly-disputed issues show. As far as tourism, as far as aviation is concerned, the EAC is just a farce. Bottom line is it does not work and let me be frank, both Tanzania and Kenya are the main culprits with non-tariff barriers. We in Uganda allow their aircraft to come in, their vehicles to come in, and their guides to work here without any hindrance. No fees, no registration or vetting, nothing. Do they reciprocate us? NO WAY. It is time they reciprocate what we are giving, or it is time to shut our doors in their faces, too,” added another Ugandan source late on Sunday when discussing the matter.
Time perhaps to face reality and look beyond the flowery statements made by the politicians in Arusha, which back home have no real effect at all.