Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda Meeting On Tourism and Wildlife Management Issues Concludes in Arusha
KAMPALA - The 17 to 20 February 2014 meeting was held to discuss among others, Partner States denying entry of tourist vehicles registered in other Partner States; harassment of driver guides at the border crossings; disparities in fees charged; cross border cooperation in wildlife law enforcement; and cooperation and support in addressing multi-lateral environment agreements.
Speaking at the opening ceremony, Kenya's Cabinet Secretary for East African Affairs, Commerce and Tourism, who is also a Chairperson of EAC Council of Ministers, Hon. Phyllis Kandie, commended the readiness of the three Partner States to meet and discuss the challenges in the tourism sector. She reiterated the commitment of the Republic of Kenya towards the EAC integration agenda.
Hon. Lazaro Nyalandu, Minister for Natural Resources and Tourism of the United Republic of Tanzania commended the Republics of Uganda and Kenya for working with the United Republic of Tanzania to resolve the issues persisting in the tourism and wildlife sectors. He noted that by resolving these challenges, Partner States would improve the standard of living for the people in the Region.
Hon. Nyalandu urged Partner States to set and honour timelines agreed upon during the deliberations and encouraged Partner States to work jointly to implement the decisions.
The Minister of State for Tourism, Wildlife and Antiquities of the Republic of Uganda, Hon. Egunyu Akiror Agnes expressed gratitude that the meeting was finally considering issues that had been outstanding in the sector since 2010. She reiterated the commitment of the Republic of Uganda in supporting the integration agenda.
On her part, the Deputy Secretary General in charge Productive and Social Sector, Hon. Jesca Eriyo stated that "as three founding Partner States of the EAC, you share a rich history that should encourage us rather than hinder our progress towards integration". Some of the recommendations made at the meeting are:
Treatment of Tourist Driver Guides:
In regard to the treatment of Tourist Driver Guides at the border crossings, the Ministers urged the Partner States to sensitize law enforcement officials and the public on appropriate conduct when interacting so as to reduce incidences that may frustrate the operations of the tourism sector. They also urged Partner States to build the capacity of tour operators to appreciate the importance of security while operating in the region to reduce misunderstandings between the two sectors. They also urged Partner States to engage the relevant Ministries to work out the modalities to develop frameworks to ensure smooth movement of the citizens of EAC Partner States across borders and within is improved to enhance intra-regional tourism.
Accessibility of Tourist Vehicles to Tourist sites in Partner States and Work Permit Fees for Tour Operators:
In regard to this outstanding issues, the Ministers/Cabinet Secretary noted that in the Republic of Kenya, the use of tourist vehicle sticker were under review due to changes in the Tourism Act. The Ministers/Cabinet Secretary urged Kenya to officially communicate the new changes in the regulations to all Partner States by 20th March, 2014.
And for the work permits, the Ministers/Cabinet Secretary noted that the United Republic of Tanzania (URT) had officially abolished the Carrying on Temporary Assignment Pass (CTA). They urged URT to officially communicate on this matter to Partner States by 20th March, 2014. Prior to July 2013, every non-citizen (including citizens of other Partner States) entering URT for the purpose of engaging in any lawful and gainful activities were subjected to pay a fee of US$200 for a CTA. The United Republic of Tanzania reported to the meeting that from July 2013 a directive was circulated to Immigration Officials at all entry points not to charge a fee of US$200 for a CTA to citizens of the other Partner States.
Entry of Kenyan and Ugandan Registered Tourist Vehicles into the United Republic of Tanzania Tourist Sites:
The Ministers/Cabinet Secretary reiterated their commitment to promote cooperation in the tourism sector with a focus on regional integration. In this regard, they agreed to engage in bilateral arrangements by reviewing or developing agreements. In this regard, the Ministers urged the Republic of Kenya and the United Republic of Tanzania to continue with the existing bi-lateral agreement on cooperation in tourism and also urged the two Partner States to meet bi-laterally to review the bi-lateral agreement on cooperation in tourism within six months.
They urged the Republic of Uganda to develop bi-lateral agreements for cooperation in tourism with the other Partner States. The Ministers/Cabinet Secretary also urged the Republic of Rwanda and Republic of Burundi to develop bi-lateral agreements for cooperation in tourism with the other Partner States.
The Ministers directed the Secretariat to coordinate the development of Regional Guidelines to manage tour operations in the EAC by July, 2014. The Secretariat was also urged to convene a regional meeting of the five Partner States involving Tour Operators Associations, Tour Guides, Wildlife Agencies, Tourist Boards, Security/Immigration, EATP and other stakeholders to consider the draft Regional Guidelines to manage tour operations by August, 2014.
The Ministers/Cabinet Secretary urged the Partner States to make additional commitments on the elimination of restrictions on the services in the Tourism sector; and as well as to expedite the liberalization of more services in the sector.
Consideration of the treatment of citizens:
The Ministers/Cabinet Secretary urged Partner States to sensitize the investors of privately owned tourist facilities to apply EAC rates; and also urged Partner States to amend current legislations to ensure that privately owned vehicles belonging to citizens of the EAC Partner States are accorded local treatment while visiting tourist sites.
Cooperation in conservation of Flora and Fauna:
The Ministers/Cabinet Secretary; urged Partner States to jointly consider regional cooperation in conservation of fauna and flora; urged Partner States to expedite the review of existing legislation to ensure that the Region's endangered wildlife resources are protected by December 2014; and included the cross border efforts in the Regional strategy to fight poaching and the illegal trade of wildlife, wildlife and forest products for consideration by the Sectoral Council Tourism and Wildlife Management.
The Ministers/Cabinet Secretary's recommendations will be submitted to the EAC Sectoral Council on Tourism and Wildlife Management for further management.