A travel agent is urging operators to consider the destinations they sell after a Tanzania governor announced the launch of a squad to hunt down gay people.
TTG Top 50 London agent Nick Harding-McKay, owner of Balham-based Travel Designers, has written to his supplier partners asking them to avoid selling the east African country “while such threats to a large section of the community are in place by their government”.
He also added that the governor’s announcement could pose a threat to tourists in the area.
Harding-McKay’s plea followed the news that Paul Makonda, governor of the country’s economic capital Dar es Salaam, told reporters round-ups of gay people would begin in the next week.
Makonda said a surveillance team would also scrutinise social media in order to track down and arrest people who are in same sex couples.
"Give me their names," Makonda was reported as saying by AFP news agency. "My ad hoc team will begin to get their hands on them next Monday."
Anti-LGBT rhetoric has been growing in Tanzania since President John Magufuli took office in 2015.
Makonda, who BBC News described as a “staunch ally” of the president, admitted he expected criticism from the international community over the move, but said: “I prefer to anger those countries than to anger God.”
Harding-McKay said he was still waiting to hear back from most supplier partners, but Andy Freeth, chief executive of If Only replied to say that while the operator did not currently sell Tanzania, the “awful comments” of the governor meant it would “not be featured though If Only anytime soon” unless the situation “dramatically changed”.
A spokesperson for the Tanzania Tourism Organisation, which is a private sector initiative, said: “It is hugely disappointing to hear of any type of prejudice, anywhere in the world.
"We are not fully aware of the legislation or of the actions being undertaken, at present. But the tourism industry is a key contributor to GDP in Tanzania, therefore I would anticipate that the entire tourism industry in the country will want to urgently debate this with the government and act accordingly”.