This morning all roads are leading to Burundi’s commercial capital Bujumbura hosting the East African Regional Tourism Expo (Sept 23-30).
According to organisers, the East African Regional tourism expo (EARTE), is being held under the theme “Rethinking Tourism for Socio-economic Development in the East African Community”.
Particpants will gather for and entire week from 23rd to 30th September 2022 at the Cercle Hippique.
Tourism is a major contributor to EAC regional bloc economy although it suffers various challenges including; sector underfunding, insecurity, lack of harmonized policies and laws, among others. These need to be quickly addressed.
Tourism is also one of the major employers in East Africa, holding nearly 7 per cent of employment in the region according to information from the East African Community making up of Tanzania, Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi and South Sudan.
Unquestionably, the tourism industry has taken a hit due to the coronavirus pandemic across the region.
As data from the United Nations World Tourism Organization pointed out earlier this year, tourist arrivals were down by 87% — an indication of how the virus has held hostage one of the most vital veins of the region’s economy.
With these challenges the industry has comprehended the underlying potential for its maximum growth and is moving in the right direction to synergize efforts to bolster the industry.
According to EAC Secretary General Hon. (Dr.) Peter Mathuki, East African Community Partner States lost 92% revenues in the tourism sector due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Despite the fact that the pandemic has reversed the gains that we had made in the tourism sector, we are quite confident that through collective and collaborative efforts, we should be able to bounce back to pre-pandemic levels of performance and even do better within a span of less than five years,” said Dr. Mathuki.
“This EXPO is among the first initiatives that we have embarked on as part of rolling out implementation of the Regional Tourism Recovery Plan that was approved by the EAC Ministers for Tourism and Wildlife Management on 15th July, 2021,” said the Secretary General.
The Secretary General urged EAC Partner States to diversify their tourism products by developing other products such as conference tourism, cultural tourism, sports tourism.
“We are also emphasizing development and promotion of multi-destination tourism packages that would encourage visitors to travel to more than one EAC Partner State in a single trip. This will go a long way in supporting the initiative of Branding EAC as a Single Tourism Destination that is also in the pipeline,” he said.