(eTN) – The onset of the East African Community (EAC) Common Market has prompted old sentiments and fears to rear their ugly heads again among sections of Tanzanian tour and safari operators – and also among domestic and charter airlines ferrying tourists to the parks – that “the Kenyans are coming.” This does not take into account the many years of preparation across Eastern Africa for the common market to become a reality, and getting ready to compete on a region wide level – a stark reality for agribusinesses, manufacturers, banks, insurers, and retail giants already.
Investments across the region have gone up significantly with companies from EAC member states buying stakes or taking over companies to solidify their market position and take advantage of the now zero duty transactions when goods and services are “exported” to other EAC countries, as long as rules of origin are met. The tourism sector, however, as is the case with the aviation sector, seems worst prepared of all major sectors, and some stakeholders in Arusha are simply befuddled at present, not being aware what impact the common market may bring for their companies and what options they have.
Non-tariff barriers still exist, very much so in the aviation sector as recently revealed in another article, but also the safari operations sector and even the continued closure of the Bologonja border point for commercial traffic is rumored to be entirely attributed to protecting Tanzanian safari business operators rather than, as publicly said, environmental concerns.
With the common market, however, now a reality, and non-tariff barriers in the cross hairs of the EAC headquarters for progressive removals, it is only a matter of time now that true competition will unfold across the entirety of East Africa with companies being able to operate to any part of their neighbors’ countries – undoubtedly a bonus for consumers and tourists and also a challenge for those unprepared and still relying on and hoping for governmental protection.