The Covid-19 crisis which has destroyed and disrupted so many lives has brought two East African countries closer together.
Two years into the global Corona Virus pandemic, the world’s reaction to it has been an unpleasant mixture of dread, fatigue, and Deja vu. Some of the measures that were employed to curb the spread include; the mandatory wearing of face masks in public spaces; cessation of movement, frequent cleaning of hands with soap and water or an alcohol-based hand rub and getting the Covid 19 jab.
Tanzania’s envoy to Kenya, Dr-John Stephen Simbachawene engaged all stakeholders to foster economic partnership in the spirit of good neighbourliness.
He alluded to the fact that the two countries have a lot in common and therefore Kenya and Tanzania should strive to maintain the existing cordial relations. Speaking at a function in Kenya’s coastal region last year, the Tanzanian envoy who is now rooting for faster integration of tourism activities in Kenya and Tanzania emphasized that a lot more unites the people of the two countries and which should overrule the differences that had existed for a while as a result of efforts aimed at containing the global Corona Virus Pandemic.
Among the attendees of the event included high-profile delegates from Kenya, the United Kingdom, Qatar, Sudan, Malawi, Serbia, Belgium, and Tanzania.
Putting his words into action, the Tanzanian High Commissioner who is also Tanzania’s permanent Representative to UNEP and UN-Habitat Solidified closer working relations between Tanzania and Kenya by engaging Kenyan tourism authorities, Kenya Association of Travel agents, and the East African Tourism Council to streamline procedures and ensure smooth workflow between the two countries.
This, however, is not new with the Tanzanian envoy as he has been described as a peacemaker who strives to create harmony within his existing surroundings.
Kenya’s tourism players welcomed his idea noting that the free flow of tourists between Kenya and Tanzania would be of great benefit to the tourism industry. They added that for a long time the country had lost due to stringent border control measures which had denied tour companies embrace to cross-border trade. They also pointed out the Safari Packages that start from Kenya and end up deep inside Tanzanian idyllic tourist locations and vice versa, noting that this will create a long-lasting impact on the tourism sector between the two nations. Efforts such as removing trade barriers would ease business flow and strengthen Kenya’s cordial relations with Tanzania.
In addition to rooting for cross-border trade, Tanzania’s envoy also ensured that a high-level meeting brought together tourism stakeholders from both nations to discuss strategies on how to attract tourists from the entire continent.
Recently, Tanzanian President Samia Suluhu Hassan harmonized cross-border relations and visited Kenya and a number of deals aimed at solidifying closer working relations in matters of trade and economy were signed.
The signing of the eight agreements followed bilateral talks between Kenyan and Tanzanian delegations led by President Kenyatta and his Tanzanian counterpart Samia Suluhu Hassan at State House in Dar es Salaam.
The bilateral pacts included agreements on mutual legal assistance, extradition, and transfer of sentenced persons, as well as memoranda of understanding (MOUs) on immigration, correctional services, and animal health.
Since the integration of the two countries through cross-border trade, tourism in both countries has seen steady growth. Moves such as cross-border trade as seen will help boost intra-Africa trade and create a closer working relationship between the two republics.
It should be noted that in the twenty-first century, tourism has become central to social, cultural, and economic lives. Given public fatigue and the lessons of the past two years, finding the right combination of solutions to cross-border conflicts will be critical.
Efforts to develop tourism across international borders in adjacent border regions will also gain interest as a result of cooperation within the border regions.
More globalization and geopolitical developments including modifications of borderlands are argued to have altered the function of borders which has led to increasingly permeable borders.
Tourism is the economic backbone of Kenya’s coastal region. Foreign, mainly Italian, tourists usually start trickling into Malindi in July, at the start of the summer holiday season in Europe. But this year, not many are seen on its beaches. With very few guests, many hotels and restaurants are being forced to make the hard decision of shutting down permanently as a result of COVID. Even with this, through cross-border tourism, spearheaded by the Tanzania envoy, there is still hope for Kenya’s tourism sector.