(eTN) – The aviation fraternity across the East African Community member states have welcomed a ministerial statement made during the just-concluded Karibu Tourism Trade Fair in Arusha, aka the Safari Capital of East Africa, that the municipal airfield will soon become available for nonstop flights arriving from Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi, and Kenya. Presently, only the distant Kilimanjaro International Airport is permitted to receive flights from abroad, compelling charters from other EAC-member states to use the more expensive facilities there, a major factor for the less then optimal tourism growth for Tanzania way below its potential. Many tourists, when told of the complications caused by non-tariff barriers erected by the Tanzanian civil aviation authority vis-a-vis regional charter airlines, then opt to “forget about” the option to visit some of Tanzania’s magnificent parks on the Northern safari circuit, and instead of spreading their money across the region, spend it in the country they originally arrived in.
The absence of the common tourist visa, still awaiting implementation, has also hampered cross-region travel for, in particular, the upper income segment of travelers, who have the means and resources to decide on the spot to fly from say Murchisons Falls to the Serengeti, but are then put off by bureaucracy – pun intended – and their criss crossing from one airport to another and the need to change aircraft and crew, as, for instance, a Ugandan charter company would most likely not get timely permission right now to fly into Arusha Municipal and from there on to the Serengeti.
Comments were also received about the continued use of the word “foreign” in the context of regionally registered and licensed airlines, with literally all stakeholders this correspondent was in touch with overnight demanding that equality is at last granted by all, for all – something Uganda generously implemented a long time ago but was never reciprocated.
Tourism stakeholders, in particular in Tanzania, are equally happy about this upcoming development as it can potentially increase tourism arrivals and revenues by very substantial margins and boost the sector by simply removing red tape, non-tariff barriers, and – as has been said before – the ill will at times seen when talking “East Africa” as opposed to “nation state.”