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Diplomatic spat scared Dar visitors

A diplomatic row between Kenya and Tanzania might have scared away visitors from the latter to Kenya, new data shows.

The latest Economic Survey 2018 by the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS) shows that the number of Tanzanian visitors to Kenya declined by 21.8 per cent – from 33,000 in 2016 to 25,800 last year.

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This is as the frosty relations between the two East African economies spilt over to the tourism sector. While departures by residents of African countries generally decreased, the decline was more pronounced in departing Tanzanian residents.

Departures by residents of African countries dipped by 8.4 per cent to 285,000 last year compared to 311,100 in 2016.

While bed occupancy by African residents grew by 3.6 per cent to 4,091,100 last year, that of Tanzanians, South Africans and Ugandans dropped in number of hotel bed-nights occupancy. The decline in both visitors and bed-night occupancy was, however, compensated by number of visitors from other parts of the world, particularly Germany and Europe. “Residents of Germany and UK jointly accounted for over half of all the departing residents of Europe,” read the Economic Survey 2018.

“Bed occupancy by residents of Europe went up by 13.1 per cent in 2017,” read the Economic Survey 2018. “Among the European residents, bed occupancy by the residents of Switzerland recorded the highest increase of 23.9 per cent from 63,200 in 2016 to 78,300 in 2017, followed by residents of United Kingdom at 22.2 per cent from 211,600 in 2016 to 258,600 in 2017.”

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Diplomatic tensions between the two countries has also seen fewer Kenyan goods enter Tanzanian market, with exports to Dar declining by 18 per cent to Sh28.5 billion last year from Sh34.8 billion in the previous year.

This came after Tanzanian authorities demanded a 25 per cent duty on Kenyan products, particularly confectionary, juice, ice cream, and chewing gum.

The Principal Secretary in the Ministry of East Africa Community Betty Maina said last month while most East African countries were industrialising and weaning themselves off Kenya’s manufactured products, there was foul play by countries such as Tanzania.

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“Non-tariff barriers in Tanzania have been very severe in the last two years,” said Ms Maina. She noted that since 2015, Tanzania has frustrated entry of Kenyan products into its borders with exports of confectionaries such as sweets and biscuits already stopped.

Export of textile has also been stopped as well as edible oil, explained Ms Maina. The Kenya Association of Manufacturers said this could raise the cost of doing business and lead to job cuts.

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