The East African Community Headquarters, Arusha, will host the 1st EAC Regional Tourism EXPO from October 9 to 11, 2021 in Arusha, Tanzania.
The three-day EXPO will be hosted by the United Republic of Tanzania in collaboration with the EAC Secretariat. From the 12th to the 16th of October 2021, it will be followed by a familiarization trip for hosted foreign buyers and journalists to some of the region’s most iconic tourist destinations. East Africa as a whole has a one-of-a-kind combination of tourism attractions, including tropical beaches, abundant animals in natural habitats, visual splendor, and a geographically diversified landscape that piques the imagination.
“Promotion of Resilient Tourism for Inclusive Socio-economic Development” is the subject of the EXPO. Following the terrible impact of the COVID-19 outbreak on the tourism sector, the theme is driven by the necessity to expand the sector in a sustainable manner. The COVID-19 pandemic impacted the travel and tourist industry more than any other economic sector in the world.
According to the EAC Secretary General, Hon. (Dr.) Peter Mathuki, the EAC lost about 70% of foreign tourist arrivals in 2020, as well as significant losses in tourism earnings and jobs. Similarly, the pandemic dealt a huge blow to wildlife conservation in the region, as it resulted in a loss of conservation funding, the majority of which comes from visitors visiting the region’s protected areas and animal conservancies.
The tourism sector is one of the most important areas of cooperation for the EAC due to its contribution to the economies of our partner states in terms of GDP (around 10%), export earnings (17%) and ‘jobs (around 7%). Its multiplier effect and its links with other sectors that play a key role in our integration, such as agriculture, transport and manufacturing, are quite immense.
Article 115 of the EAC Treaty provides for cooperation in the tourism sector by which the partner states undertake to develop a collective and coordinated approach to the promotion and marketing of quality tourism in and within the Community. In particular, they undertake to coordinate the policies of the tourism industry, to standardize the classification of hotels and to develop a regional tourism promotion strategy where individual efforts are reinforced by regional action.
In addition, by undertaking joint promotion of tourism at international tourism fairs, including the World Travel Market (London) and the International Tourism Exchange (ITB) in Berlin, the Tourism and Wildlife Management Sector Council has agreed to organize a regional tourism EXPO organized by partner states on a rotational basis.
During its extraordinary meeting held on July 15, 2021, the EAC Sector Council on Tourism and Wildlife Management decided that the United Republic of Tanzania will host the 1st EAC Regional Tourism EXPO in Arusha in October 2021. Arusha’s choice of EXPO venue was informed that the city is a tourism hub for Tanzania and would be easily accessible by participants from all partner states.
The overall objective of the EXPO is to promote EAC as a unique tourism destination, provide a platform for business-to-business (B2B) engagements of tourism service providers, raise awareness of tourism investment opportunities and address the challenges affecting the tourism and wildlife sectors in the Region.
The EXPO will include exhibitions from tourism service providers, speed networking and B2B meetings and seminars on tourism and wildlife sub-themes. Regarding the tourism sector, these sub-themes will revolve around aspects such as tourism resilience and crisis management, tourism digital marketing, development of multi-destination tourism packages and opportunities and tourism investment incentives. On the other hand, sub-themes related to wildlife will include the fight against poaching and illegal wildlife trade and the economic value of wildlife in the region.
“The EXPO is expected to go a long way in reviving EAC tourism following the unprecedented decline caused by COVID-19. It will strengthen intra-regional tourism in addition to international tourism through the promotion of tourism product offerings for EAC citizens. This will build on earlier efforts such as the Cabinet of Ministers decision that partner states offer preferential rates to EAC citizens visiting public tourist attractions in the region, under which they are charged rates that s ‘apply to nationals,’ said Deputy Secretary General in charge of the productive and social sectors, Hon. Christophe Bazivamo.