Rose petals for the politicians and the thorns for the private sector – EAC gone Topsy Turvy


(Posted 24th February 2014)


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 operator fraternity in Kenya.

A lot of hullaballo 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 our politicians in Arusha, which back home have no real effect at all. Watch this space.

13 Responses

  1. Dear Wolfgang,

    It is always extremely unfortunate when people rush to pass judgment and condemn efforts of others without first taking time to really understand the issue at hand.

    The Tri-lateral meeting held in Arusha last week achieved a major success ….. it set in motion the framework for future collaboration between the two member states in the area of cross-border tourism.

    I sat through all meetings over the four days and a key discussion issue was that while Tanzanian operators are allowed free access all over Kenya, their Kenyan counterparts are not allowed into Tanzania Parks and Reserves. The reason for this was explained as being the existing of an MOU that clearly spelled out how the two member states would treat each other. Tanzania was complying, while Kenya was not.

    The success of this meeting was that it placed the two partners on a equal footing in that Tanzania vehicles will now not access Kenya tourism sites and attractions (as per the current MOU) until a new MOU is developed and adopted. This creates a conducive environment for the partner states to genuinely engage each other and develop better cooperation.

    A meeting has already been requested for by the United Republic of Tanzania where tourism stakeholders from both countries shall meet in Nairobi in March 2014 to review the current MOU and propose the amendments needed to create a new MOU. it is this new MOU that will seek to fully address all the concerns that safari operators are noted to be raising.

    One very important point that they should not miss is that without the Arusha meeting, none of this would have been possible.

    Author Lao Tzu aptly noted that …… “The longest journey begins with a single step”.
    The Arusha meeting was that a very important first step towards effectively addressing the existing problems within a framework of genuine partnership.

    Let us learn to appreciate the little things in life.

    Yours Sincerly.

    Fred Odek
    Hon. Treasurer, KATO

    1. What is evident is a fundamentally different view by large sections of the stakeholder community over what politicians describe as progress and what they perceive as progress. This debate is healthy and should by all means continue. The tourism sector in Kenya is faced with many challenges which have also generated at times hot debate, and again what politicians project into the public domain is often very different from the reality on the ground. I am happy to continue giving a forum and platform for such debates. Thank you for reading my blog.

      1. While you offer the platform the information there in should be factual not just bits and peaces of grapevine wordings . The meeting in Arusha was not for politicians but Industry stakeholders and government technocrats , the work done was real the documents signed are in force and will benefit all stake holders in Tourism .
        I am not a politician but a businessman and i can confirm that i headed the private sector delegation to Arusha and we can confirm we came back with results and positive results for anyone who really care to check .

        I have also noted the mention of main players , who are this main players , all KATO members are already briefed and i have not seen any negative comment as we are all waiting for the implementation of the agreements . Lets have names and work towards sorting out real problems not imaginary problems.
        Lastly while Tourism sector may have a number of problems or challenges Arusha meeting was specific and the solutions were as well specific so lets report and discuss issues in the correct context without misleading the public .

        Odek Fred
        Hon Treasurer – KATO .

  2. Prof.
    we were also briefed by our guys and you are spot on. Some of those private sector representatives are also politicians. Consultations for 6 months? How many years do they need to consult over the same issues which were there when you represented us in Arusha. Keep going and expose what the trade really thinks.
    Mukasa Fred M.

  3. Mukisa – Could you kindly let us know which fellow you are reffering to and which words you would like taken back , when i check on this post i made my statement which is still factually going by the discussions that were tabled and discussed in Arusha . Please be specific to enable me and those of us who negotiated this deal respond to you with facts .

  4. Mukasa if i was not a tour operator i would have believed your words , but because i am one i know you have no idea what you are talking about and abusing me on the medium does not make you right either .
    While you qoute some post without any particular operator makes it useless information .

    Just to make you understand before you lecture us on this subject please get your hands on the key issues that were discussed in Arusha , bring them on the table and lets go through line by line .
    While the news feed you have posted talked about Kenyan operators turning back from Sirare to Nairobi and then drive to Serengeti , please be advised that not a single Kenyan operator can drive to Serengeti so your information is bogus. And just for your information no single Kenyan operator has ever requested for opening of the boarder by receprocation on legislation in both countries .
    Any tour operator who wish to challenge or complain on the Arusha outcome must do the same formally to the respective association they belong to you included , so please go ahead and lodge your petition .
    I am on the ground and anything below me is underground . I do sit on Kato board and members have the right to remove me if they believe we are not effective . You are free to join and help the cause anything short of that is empty noise , i deal with facts and please give me same .

  5. Yes, long life Gods gift to the tourism world, the one and only, infallible one who knows it all and no one else knows nothing.

  6. Mr. Mukasa, I suggest you let go of this one … just ignore it.
    Again, thanks for reading and contributing to other articles.

  7. Mukasa there is only one way to this , if you wish to be that voice of reason you run the extra mile to get the full facts , hold interviews with both government officials and the private sector officials who were tasked to do this job , with full disclosure you will have the authority to offer your views objectively . It also helps to qoute the persons or companies you represent or on who’s behalf you advocate .
    Personally i talk for Kato and KTF . Lets be clear on our discussions only facts no side shows .
    Odek Fred .

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