Zanzibar upset over MOU between Seychelles and Tanzania


(eTN) – There was bemusement, as well as anger, following Zanzibar’s complaints to the central government, objecting to a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the Seychelles government and its counterparts in what is commonly called the United Republic of Tanzania. However, the complaints, ostensibly over fears and subsequent allegations of losing beach vacation business to the Seychelles, showed little sign of unity among the eternal protagonists, leaving regional observers bewildered to a point of asking “who is in charge of what there?”

The Seychelles has for a while now successfully promoted twin center holidays and signed similar MOUs with Kenya, South Africa, and others to have tourists vacationing in the Seychelles also consider extending their holiday and taking a safari in East or South Africa.

While discussing the agreement recently in Dar es Salaam, aviation representatives were also looking at the establishment of direct flights between Tanzania and the Seychelles, presently only connected with the African continent via Kenya Airways and South African Airways (there are also, of course, flights between Mahe and Mauritius and La Reunion – two equally famous Indian Ocean island destinations. It is understood that Precision Air is considering to fly between Dar and Mahe, although the outbursts from Zanzibari tourism representatives are clearly not helpful to accomplish this – in the process, leaving yet more room for complaints from different quarters that “only Kenya Airways via Nairobi” offers such flights, while bickering and individual misjudgements and greed prevent a greater integration of Tanzania tourism into the wider region.

Tourism observers, analysts, and journalists dealing with travel topics, however, have dismissed the anger by Zanzibar as “out of line,” as well as “missing the point,” as the Seychelles offers a vastly different product from Zanzibar or the mainland beaches, while also pointing at African Union efforts, SADC efforts – to which both countries belong – and other continental bodies to increase trade and travel between African countries.

Said one journalist in regular contact with this correspondent: “I fail to see how an MOU, or flights between Tanzania and Seychelles, could damage Zanzibar tourism. The destinations complement each other, in fact can gain from such agreements as it is seen in the case of South Africa for instance. There the two have even extended their joint promotions into South America for the benefit of both destinations. Zanzibar, instead of seeing opportunities and taking advantage of them, is forming the proverbial ‘lager’ and whipping up emotions. Do my fellow Africans ever learn that we are now living and working in a global environment, and unless we cooperate and work hand in hand, it will be other continents taking the lion’s share of future travel?

“Already now Africa is the least-traveled continent, and this we must change so as to tap into the travel budgets of Europeans, North Americans, and affluent Asian nations – not make a public spectacle over inter African cooperation. If those complaining need culprits and someone to blame, let them start by assessing their product and markets first, see where Tanzania can improve and do better and not rush to judgement over cooperation African should be proud of.” Harsh words but quite to the point.