ZANZIBAR President Hussein Mwinyi has challenged EAC partner states to redefine and review national policies in a bid to boost the regional tourism sector.
Dr Mwinyi insisted that deliberate efforts were needed to steer the industry.
“The natural attractions found in the region are certainly unrivalled, by doing so, we will be implementing this year’s theme,” observed Dr Mwinyi, while bringing down the curtain on the three-day East African Community (EAC) Regional Tourism Expo (EARTE).
His call comes in the wake of revelations that the regional tourism market share only accounted 8.6 per cent of the total African share, and 0.3 per cent of the global market share.
“Tourism forms an integral part of the community’s economy, we therefore need to revisit our national policies if we truly want to catapult the industry to greater heights,” he emphasized.
Dr Mwinyi who is also Chairman of the Revolutionary Council also referred to a recent East African Legislative Assembly (EALA) report on regional tourism, saying the onus was on the partner states to get back to their drawing boards and salvage the sector.
Two years ago, EALA demanded the EAC to fast-track the conclusion of the EAC Protocol on Tourism and Wildlife Management, as well as in strengthening a pool of EAC Classification Assessors to ensure efficiency and effectiveness in classification of tourism establishment.
The assembly also reiterated the creation of a well-coordinated and digitized information exchange hub for the advancement of joint tourist visa mechanism in a bid to attract tourists in the region.
Earlier, Tourism and Natural Resources Minister Damas Ndumbaro informed the President that a group of tour operators in the Isles were due to launch charter flights from the Abeid Amani Karume International Airport to Mkomazi Rhino sanctuary.
The move will spice up tourism activities at the site, according to Dr Ndumbaro.
“The flights are due to start next month and will see an influx of tourists at the area,” he said.
On his part, EAC Director General In Charge Customs and Trade Kenneth Bagamuhunda said the expo will help in leveraging the growing regional tourism market.
“Tourism is one of the drivers of our integration, we are using the expo to make it a leading sector in the region,” he added.
Kenyan Chief Administrative Secretary (CAS) at the Ministry of Tourism and Wildlife Joseph Boinett lauded Tanzania for taking up the mantle in hosting the inaugural EARTE.
“We are fully satisfied with the preparation even when Tanzania took up the responsibility on a very short notice,” he said.
The theme of the EXPO is “Promotion of Resilient Tourism for Inclusive Socio-economic Development.” The theme is informed by the need to develop the tourism sector in a sustainable manner following the devastating impact on the sector by the Covid-19 pandemic. The travel and tourism sector, globally, was affected by the Covid-19 pandemic more than any other economic sector.
Introduced by EAC ministers responsible for tourism, the expo is done on rotational basis. Burundi will be the next host of EARTE next year.
Tanzania becomes the first East African country to host the expo which among other things seeks create awareness on tourism investment opportunities amid the pandemic and promote EAC as a single tourism destination.
In October next year, the country will host the 65th United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) Commission for Africa. The meeting is expected to take place in Arusha.