East African Community launches new intra-regional tourism drive

The East African Community (EAC) has launched the EAC Regional and Domestic Tourism Media Campaign set to publicize national and regional tourist attraction sites and services, aiming to stimulate and develop intra-regional travel.

Launched this week, the “Tembea Nyumbani”, or “Visit Home” campaign seeks to attract East African citizens to travel in their own countries, then around the region, in an effort to revive domestic and regional tourism across the East African region, amid the COVID -19 pandemic.

The campaign is set to run for three weeks, from December 1, 2021. It is part of implementation of the EAC Tourism Marketing Strategy and EAC Recovery Plan supported by German Development Agency, GIZ.

EAC Secretariat launched the campaign at its headquarters in Northern Tanzania tourist city of Arusha.

Tourism contributes significantly to the economies of EAC Partner States and pre-pandemic, contributed 10 percent of Gross Domestic Product (GDP), 17% export earnings and 7% in jobs creation.

COVID-19 pandemic saw the sector affected negatively with international tourism arrivals in East Africa dropping by about 67.7%, to an estimated 2.25 million arrivals in 2020 compared to 6.98 million in 2019.

EAC Secretary General Dr. Peter Mathuki had encouraged tourism private sector players to extend affordable packages to East Africans so as to entice them into taking advantage of the holiday offers available during the upcoming festive season.

“With preferential entry fees and rates now extended to EAC citizens, it is timely for East Africans to explore the diverse cultures, take on adventure safaris and visit exotic beaches amongst other opportunities the region has to offer”, Dr. Mathuki said during the media launch held at the EAC headquarters in Arusha mid-this week.

Dr. Mathuki further noted that EAC has developed an EAC Pass that integrates and validates COVID-19 tests and vaccination certificates for EAC Partner States to ease travel across the region.

The Tembea Nyumbani campaign is being undertaken by the EAC in collaboration with the East African Tourism Platform that represents the tourism businesses across the region. 

Through the campaign, hoteliers and other tourism service providers are being encouraged to promote affordable packages to the EAC citizens.

On his part, EAC Director in charge of Productive Sectors, Mr. Jean Baptiste Havugimana noted that the EAC is making strides in ensuring the Single Tourist Visa is adopted by all EAC Partner States.

“The Sectoral Council on Tourism and Wildlife Management during their Extra-ordinary meeting held in July this year had recommended that the Secretariat to convene a multisectoral meeting comprising key sectors such as Tourism and Wildlife, Immigration and Security to develop a framework for introduction of the Single Tourist Visa by all the Partner States,” he said.

Mr. Havugimana noted that the meeting will be convened in early 2022, adding that once fully adopted the Visa will ease travel by foreign tourists across the entire region.

Further, EAC Principal Tourism Officer, Mr. Simon Kiarie, noted that EAC projects that with aggressive tourism efforts both at the regional and national levels; the region will be able to receive about 4 million tourists in next year. 

“The tourism sector’s recovery has been on an upward trajectory and we expect that by the year 2024, we will receive about 7 million tourists compared to 2.25 million tourists recorded in 2020”, he noted.

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