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Africa News of Friday, 16 April 2021

Source: thecitizen.co.tz

Mixed reactions as Russia suspends flights to Tanzania indefinitely

The Russia ban follows an earlier one by Oman citing fight against COVID-19 The Russia ban follows an earlier one by Oman citing fight against COVID-19

Tourism stakeholders said yesterday that the decision by Russia to suspend flights between Russia and Tanzania will have minimal impact on Tanzania because the country was currently on the low season.

On Monday, Russia’s government suspended flights between the two countries, with effect from today to June 1, due to the status of the coronavirus pandemic.

Zanzibar Association of Tourism Investors (Zati) chairman Seif Miskry said, however, that the decision will affect the industry’s value chain.

He said the number of tourists would go down.

“Not only will it (suspension) affect industry’s investors and government’s income, but also the whole value chain,” said Mr Miskry.

Noting that they didn’t know what was behind the decision, he said its move caught them by surprise.

This is because, he expounded, when the pandemic was in peak in March, 2020 they sat with the Russian’s Embassy in Tanzania and discussed on how they would safely handle tourists.

That is why they came up with the National Standard Operating Procedures for the management of COVID-19 in the tourism business.

Zanzibar Association of Tour Operators (Zato) chairman Hassan Mzee said suspension would have little effects because it came at a time when the industry was already in low season due to rains.

“They (tourists) will start flowing in come June because aircraft and hotels have already received bookings covering June to December,” Mr Mzee told The Citizen over the telephone.

Prior to the announcement there was one chartered flight in 10 days that flew directly to Zanzibar.

Going by the Zanzibar Commission for Tourism, Russia dominated the tourism market by accounting for 41.3 percent of the 101, 442 visitors for the first two months of January and February.

The Russian government said it will review the suspension of flights between the two countries if the pandemic situation in Tanzania stabilises.

Speaking at a video conference, Russia’s Deputy Prime Minister Tatiana Golikova said travel agencies were recommended to halt sales of tours to Tanzania and Turkey, where flights have also been suspended.

“I would like to note that, based on the analysis of epidemiological data, we decided to suspend air traffic with the United Republic of Tanzania also from April 15 to June 1, 2021,” she said.

Russian tourists vacationing in Tanzania and Turkey will not be evacuated from these countries following Russia’s decision to suspend or restrict air service.

However, they will be able to return home earlier than originally planned, Zarina Doguzova, head of Russia’s Tourism Agency said.

Tourist arrivals in Zanzibar increased by 3.4 percent to 51,574 in February, 2021 compared to the preceding month, according to the Zanzibar Commission for Tourism.

But the number decreased by 16.5 percent compared with corresponding month (February) in 2020.

Tourists from Europe continued to dominate the Zanzibar market by accounting 85.8 percent of the total visitors in February 2021.

Generally, Zanzibar’s visitors from January- February 2021 which decreased by 17.7 percent compared with the corresponding months last year.

Most of the visitors were from Europe, accounting for 87 percent.

About 94,896 visitors entered through the airport while the remaining 6,546 visitors entered through the seaport.

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