Chances by cooperation for tourism East Africa

Endowed with enduring natural diversity, great climate, rich cultures and receptive people, East Africa is one of Africa’s leading tourism destinations. However, players in the tourism sector argue that the region would perhaps be performing much better if instituted strategies are respected, for instance, marketing the region’s tourism sector as a single tourism destination.

Recently, US based New York Times recently ranked Tanzania and Uganda among the top 45 destinations tourists should visit in 2012. Kenya—the region’s leading market player,  is still ahead with other regional member states even as attacks on tourists continue to threaten one of the country’s largest revenue earners.  Rwanda—one of the safest destinations in the region and Uganda are the only two countries in the world where mountain gorillas can be visited safely at the moment.

UNWTO Secretary General,  Mr Taleb Rifai recently said at the ITB Travel Trade Show in Berlin-Germany that if properly planned and managed, tourism can be one of the most promising sectors for achieving a more economically, environmentally and socially sustainable future. Economically, existing records show that travel and tourism contribution to EAC’s GDP will grow by nearly 5 per cent per annum over the coming seven years, slightly up from 4 per cent in 2007. East Africa attracts about 3 million visitors annually of which 1.5 million visit Kenya with the rest are shared between Tanzania, Uganda, Rwanda and Burundi.

The resulst could even be better. Assistant Spokesperson for Africa at the Commonwealth Secretariat, Mr Julius Mucunguzi advises that there are situations where promoting the region as a tourist destination would bring more value, as opposed to advertising each single country.

At the moment there is an EAC Tourism Policy designed to promote and market the region as a single destination. If the protocol comes into force, the East African Tourism and Wildlife Coordination Agency, (EATWCA) will become operational through executing projects and programmes as stipulated in the EAC Treaty under Articles 115 and 116 on Cooperation in Tourism and Wildlife Management.

The cooperation also looks into possibilities of a single tourist visa for EAC member states as a way of promoting regional tourism. Primarily, tourists visiting the EAC member countries have had to pay multiple visa fees, limiting many to single destinations, which cut back on possible revenue. “We need to focus at the bigger picture and make the region get an international appeal,” Mr Wekesa, the president of the Uganda Tourism Association, says.

Read the complete article on the Daily Monitor

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