The Tanzania Airport Authority has introduced a security levy imposed to passengers boarding aircraft at major domestic and international airports across territorial boundaries of Tanzania, and it is likely to also affect foreign tourists booked to visit this African destination.
The new fee will be used for improvement of airport security through installation of high-tech equipment and safety services including perimeter fences and state-of-the-art scanning machines to improve detection capacity and reduce intrusive direct-body searches on travelers.
Expected to be effected on October 1 of this year, the security levy will affect both foreign and domestic travelers booked with airlines flying inside and outside Tanzania.
Tanzania Airports Authority (TAA) Director General Richard Mayongela said that foreign travelers boarding aircraft at major airports in Tanzania will pay US$5 while those boarding domestic flights will pay a US$2 security fee on top of the flight ticket price.
He said that the security levy will be charged from October 1 of this year and will affect all passengers booked to fly through Tanzania airports, mostly the Julius Nyerere International Airport (JNIA) in Dar es Salaam which handles most passengers flying international and domestic destinations.
“We have introduced [a] security levy whose purpose is targeted to enhance development of airports infrastructure, also to stabilize and strengthen … safety of our airports as to make them gain international status in terms of safety and quality,” Mayongela said.
Major international airlines to be affected with this new levy setup are KLM Royal Dutch Airlines, Kenya Airways, South Africa Airways, Emirates, Qatar Air, Ethiopian Airlines, Swiss International, Fly Dubai, Rwanda Air, and Etihad.
Local airlines to feel the effect of the new charges are Precision Air, FastJet, Air Tanzania, Coastal Aviation, and Auric Air, all operating frequent domestic flights within Tanzania and partly in East Africa.
The current departure tax for domestic flights is US$5.70 while the international departure tax is US$49 per passenger boarding a flight.
Airlines operating in Tanzania fear that the new levy will make air transport in this African nation be expensive enough to scare away travelers looking to book both local and international flights.
A KLM Royal Dutch Airlines official in Dar es Salaam, Mr. Alexander Van de Wint, had suggested that the Tanzania government could set the security levy to be imposed at the start of next year, as most of KLM’s tickets have been sold in advance to respective passengers traveling up to the end of this year.
KLM is the only European-registered air carrier connecting Tanzania with North American cities. Most of KLM seats are booked by tourists from the United States and Europe. The airline operates daily flights between Amsterdam in the Netherlands and Kilimanjaro and Dar es Salaam in Tanzania.
Leading airline executives in Dar es Salaam had expressed their fear, saying that the newly-imposed security levy will make air transport in Tanzania too expensive, noting that several taxes and fees are currently charged to passengers using Tanzanian airports.
Tourism will be the most affected sector by the newly-imposed security fees. The Tanzania Association of Tour Operators (TATO) Chief Executive Officer, Mr. Sirili Akko, said the newly-introduced security fees could scare away tourists planning to visit Tanzania.
“This move is not welcomed, as it works against Tanzania Government’s goal of increasing tourist traffic and will have a compounding effect on ticket cost and ultimately on the safari packages,” Akko said.
Akko added that the current request from private sector targets is to reduce taxes and levies, if not abolish them altogether.
There have been fees, levies, and taxes on auxiliary services to tourism packages which the association had raised its deep concerns about.
TATO is an umbrella organization registered with more than 400 tour operators and other tourist business stakeholders. The association is now leading to market Destination Tanzania in the world.
Tourism is Tanzania’s leading foreign currency earning sector and key economic sector, but the current government had targeted industries as priority in the economic sector.
By Apolinari Tairo