Tourism potential of all East African Community member sates is largely untapped according to remarks made by Prosper Bazombanza Burundi’s Vice President at the 2nd edition of the East African Community Regional Tourism Exhibition (EARTE) in Bujumbura.
The EAC Tourism exhibition begun on September 23rd and concludes today September 30th at the Cercle Hippique de Bujumbura.
Bazombanza said that EARTE will contribute enormously to promote many tourist attractions in regional and international markets.
He added that the EAC region is endowed with a multitude of tourist attractions, but it is clear that the tourist potential of all the States remains largely untapped
But the work in synergy, based on various initiatives such as the joint promotion of tourism, the standardization of tourist services would help to better exploit the tourist potential of the EAC according to Bazombanza.
EAC partner states benefit from tourism spin-offs through contribution to Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in foreign exchange earnings and job creation, he added.
Bazombanza visited the stands of the participating countries erected at the Cercle Hippique where some commercial and industrial companies, local and foreign, exhibit their products and services.
This tourism expo drew over 250 exhibitors from over 10 countries, 120 international and regional travel agents and buyers, as well as 2,500 trade visitors.
The tourism expo aimed at providing a platform for tourism service providers’ business-to-business engagements, creating awareness of tourism investment opportunities, and addressing challenges affecting the tourism and wildlife sectors in the region.
The theme for the 2022 EXPO is “Rethinking Tourism for Social Economic Development in the East African Community.”
Tourism sector is one of the most important areas of cooperation for EAC owing to its contribution to the economies of Partner States in terms of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) about 10%, export earnings 17% and jobs about 7%.
However, statistical data indicates that the number of tourists arriving in the EAC region had dropped by about 67.7% last year to about 2.25 million international visitors, causing a U$4.8 billion loss from tourist revenues. The EAC region had earlier projected to attract 14 million tourists in 2025 before the COVID-19 pandemic.
Therefore, through the Second edition of the EARTE, the EAC partner states will be ready to receive tourists from outside the region then provide them with multi-destination tourism packages through combined itineraries within the East African block.
“Development of multi-destination tourism packages and tourism investment opportunities and incentives, combating of poaching and illegal wildlife trade were the key strategies need to for regional tourism development”, said Dr. Peter Mathuki, the EAC Secretary General.