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‘Market EAC as single tourism destination’

‘Market EAC as single tourism destination’

AS the much awaited East African Regional Tourism EXPO (EARTE) kicks-off here today, the EAC Secretary General Peter Mathuki has urged partner states to make the economic bloc a single tourism destination.

Dr Mathuki said here yesterday that the move seeks boost tourism earnings and make the bloc foreign direct investment hub.

“To start with, we need to harmonize the policies that govern tourism sector in the region,” observed Dr Mathuki.

The EAC boss further urged the six member states to use the high-profile platform to prioritize the interests of the bloc at the expense of each partner states.

“EAC is endowed with an array of resources such as forests and wildlife, we therefore need to capitalize on EART to market the community as a single tourism destination,” he said.

The East African Legislative Assembly (EALA) had once demanded the EAC to fast-track the conclusion of the EAC Protocol on Tourism and Wildlife Management, as well as in strengthening a pool of EAC Classification Assessors to ensure efficiency and effectiveness in classification of tourism establishment.

The assembly also reiterated the creation of a well-coordinated and digitized information exchange hub for the advancement of joint tourist visa mechanism in a bid to attract tourists in the region.

Tourism accounts for almost ten per cent of revenues among the six partner states.

According data availed by the partner states, tourism arrivals in the region were estimated to have dropped by about 67.7 per cent in 2020 compared to 2019. In absolute terms, EAC received about 2.25 million international tourists in 2020 compared to about 6.98 million in 2019.

“The pandemic has negatively affected all benefits of tourism including massive job losses in the sector, loss of tourism revenue, and undermining of wildlife conservation efforts,” he noted.

He further added that four EAC partner states, namely Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania and Uganda, visitors to national parks and reserves reduced by an average of 64.6 per cent in 2020 compared to 2019.

On his part, EAC Director of Productive Sectors Jean Baptiste Havugimana revealed that the expo, first of its kind to be held in the region is expected to draw more than 2000 visitors to Tanzania.

The three-day expo, under the theme, ‘Promotion of Resilient Tourism for Inclusive Socio-economic Development’ will also be attended by national tourism boards, private sector and tourism industry players, representatives from other Regional Economics Communities (SADC, IGAD, COMESA), African Union, UN World Tourism Organisations, Development Partners and members of the Diplomatic Community in Tanzania.

It aims at creating awareness on tourism investment opportunities amid the pandemic and promotes EAC as a single tourism destination.

Currently, EAC Partner States’ Ministers of Tourism and Government officials from Botswana, Sierra Leone and the Democratic Republic of Congo have confirmed their participation.

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Author: EDWARD QORRO in Arusha

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