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Mara-Serengeti rivalry eats into hoteliers’ market share

Hoteliers in Masai Mara want the government to set up customs and immigration offices at Sand River Gate along the Kenya-Tanzania border for free movement of tourists within the game reserve and Serengeti National Park.

Speaking under the aegis of Mara Manager Forum at the weekend, they said their visitors encounter problems in accessing Serengeti because the Tanzania authorities have not relaxed rules governing free movement of people, services and goods.

“The government should set up the offices. It will ensure that tourists in Mara and Serengeti move freely across the borders. It should also prevail upon Tanzania to relax other rules such as production of vaccination certificates for visitors wishing to visit that country,” said the forum secretary, Steve Nzuki.

Nzuki, who is also the Mara Intrepids and Explorer Camps general manager, said Tanzanian authorities have not been cooperative, adding that tourism would otherwise have been thriving in the region.

Kenya hoteliers wishing to work in Tanzania require expensive work permits that take long to process, the managers said, adding that policies that hinder trade should be done away with.

Meanwhile, Narok West MP Patrick Ntutu has asked the government to open a customs office at Olpusimoru area along the Kenya-Tanzania border. He said the volume of trade between the two countries is big, but the lack of such an office costs the Kenya government billions of shillings in revenue.

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