The EAC Sectoral Council on Tourism and Wildlife Management has put in place a strategy to revive the sector following the Covid-19 pandemic.
The regional tourism ministers approved the Tourism Recovery Plan as a collective and coordinated response on Thursday. The plan is aimed at reinforcing measures being developed and implemented at national levels.
The meeting was chaired by Kenya’s Tourism and Wildlife Cabinet Secretary Najib Balala.
Balala underscored the importance of member states working together to overturn the Covid-19 damage on the sector and recover.
“The Covid-19 pandemic has taught all of some really important lessons. For instance, domestic and regional tourism markets are really key and they can help in making the tourism sector resilient in case of future disasters and pandemics,” Balala said.
“The pandemic has revealed we can use technology to connect with each other and have meetings such as this. It is, therefore, really important that we invest heavily in infrastructure and connectivity.
EAC secretary general Peter Mathuki said tourism was one of the most important areas of cooperation owing to its contribution to the economies of the partner states in terms of GDP (about 10 per cent), export earnings (17 per cent) and jobs (about seven per cent).
“Its multiplier effect and linkages with other sectors that are instrumental in our integration such as agriculture, transport and manufacturing are quite immense. However, the travel and tourism sector, globally, was affected by the Covid-19 pandemic more than any other economic sector,” Mathuki noted.
“Based on statistics reported by the partner states, as a region, we lost close to 70 per cent of international tourist arrivals in 2020 coupled with massive losses in tourism earnings and tourism-related jobs.”
The ministers also agreed to establish an annual EAC Regional Tourism Expo to improve the visibility of the region and market it as a single tourist destination. Tanzania will hosts the first EARTE in October.
The ministers who attended the meeting included Rizik Zakaria (South Sudan), Tom Butime (Uganda) and Damas Ndumbaro (Tanzania).
Others were Tourism PS Ambassador Jérémie Banigwaninzigo, and Rwanda Development Board Deputy CEO Zephanie Niyonkuru.
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