Tourist disputes continue between Kenya and Tanzania

Talks between Kenya and Tanzania on the organisation of cross-border tourism have broken down again.

The meeting in mid-March proved as inconclusive as the one in February and at present both sides appear intransigent about resolving their disputes in the highly competitive tourist market. This means that Tanzanian registered tourist vehicles are still prevented from picking up passengers at Kenya's Jomo Kenyatta international airport. Tanzanian operators therefore have to use Kenyan-registered vehicles to transport tourists between the airport in Nairobi and the Tanzanian border.

The conflict also involves one-time plans for a common tourist visa and various other joint tourism projects, which have now been shelved.

The rivalry for the lucrative tourist trade has also affected flights between Dar es Salaam, and Nairobi. Tanzania is refusing landing rights to about 60 per cent of Kenyan flights into the country after Kenya refused to give the Tanzanian based low-cost airline Fastjet landing rights.

Kenyan Airways has reduced services into Dar es Salaam from 42 to 14 per cent, with only two flights a day now scheduled instead of five.

The lucrative tourism market has become a hotly contested subject in the wake of growing security risks in both countries, and competition in a static market is keen.

Tanzania is also facing general elections at the end of October and Arusha, hardest hit by the cross-frontier ban, is one of the areas in the country where there has been strong opposition to the out-going president Jakaya Kiwete in the past. Although Kikwete is not eligible to stand for a third term in office his CCM party still hopes to retain the presidency and the majority in parliament.