TANZANIA is thinking of asking the British government to reintroduce British Airways' (BA) direct flights between Dar es Salaam and London in view of an increased number of tourists from Britain, which is currently the leading source of tourists visiting the country.
Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation Minister, Mr Bernard Membe, said Tanzania would also ask the UK to allow the British High Commission in Dar es Salaam to issue visas, unlike now where visa processing is done through Nairobi, Kenya.
BA announced in March, last year, that it was pulling its services out of Tanzania, attributing the move to low profitability. The airline used to operate flights between Heathrow and Julius Nyerere International Airports for almost four decades. "Now that we have multinationals such as BG and Ophir from UK involved in the exploration for oil and gas, we think it is high time BA resumed direct flights.
This will also encourage more tourists from that country to visit Tanzania," the minister said. Mr Membe, who was in the company of Minister for Natural Resources and Tourism, Mr Lazaro Nyalandu, was speaking at a joint news conference with British Foreign Office Minister for Africa, Mr Mark Simmonds, who was in the country for a two-day official visit.
Back in the year 2008, the UK introduced new changes in the processing of visa applications where its high commission in Nairobi was given the mandate to process the travel permit for the East African region while Pretoria handles southern African countries.
However, Mr Membe said the government of Tanzania would ask the British government to reconsider its decisions on the processing of travel permits as well as the reintroduction of direct BA flights. Tourist companies in Tanzania had noted with concerns that closure of BA operations would decrease tourist flows into Tanzania.
The airline had been the most reliable passenger carrier between Tanzania, UK and the United States. Mr Simmonds said his country was committed to working in partnership with Tanzania to increase bilateral trade and investment, support development and generate prosperity for both countries.
The minister's visit to Tanzania had three items on its agenda. These included a review of development cooperation between the two countries, efforts by Tanzania in the anti-poaching drive, as well as the peace and security situation in the Great Lakes region.
During his visit he met with the Minister for East African Cooperation, Mr Samuel Sitta, Minister for Agriculture, Food and Cooperatives, Mr Christopher Chiza, and Minister in the Prime Minister's Office (Investment and Empowerment), Ms Mary Nagu.
The United Kingdom is the leading investor in Tanzania, with 35 per cent of foreign direct investments (FDIs). British companies, according to the Tanzania Investment Centre (TIC), invested around US $5.1 billion (about 8.4trl/-) between 1990 and 2013, creating over 200,000 jobs.
On the other hand, bilateral trade between the two countries was worth US $340 million (about 561bn/-). British firms play an important role in sectors such as energy, communications, construction, banking, agriculture, and the nascent oil and gas sector.