Tanzania appears to have been isolated further in efforts to market East Africa a single tourism destination, after Kenya, Uganda and Rwanda launched a portal to jointly market their tourism products online.
At the same time, Kenya is looking to Uganda to boost intra-regional travel for pleasure, building on statistics that an expanding middle class is becoming more amenable to travel.
“The fact that Tanzania has made it clear that regional tourism is not a priority for them is affecting efforts to sell East Africa as a whole. If we are to compete with other regions and destinations, we need unity of purpose,” said Carmen Nibigira, the co-ordinator of the East Africa Tourism Platform.
She added that the region must break down the barriers to the growth of the tourism sector in order to compete in the continental and global arena.
The portal will be a shared platform for tourist trade operators to place their multi-country packages targeting regional and international tourists. It follows the launch of the East African multi-entry Single Tourists Visa, which has largely failed to take off as member states have failed to streamline their national visa policies. Since its launch in February 2014, the visa has attracted only 4,000 tourists.
“With the year 2017 being the year of sustainable tourism, it is important for East Africa to implement sustainable tourism practices to ensure that countries remain choice destinations in Africa,” said Kenya Tourism Board CEO, Betty Radier at the launch of the portal.
No significant success yet
An analysis of tourist arrivals shows that despite countries on the Northern Transport Corridor isolating Tanzania, their efforts to attract more tourists have not translated into significant success, with preferences still being driven by individual country attractions.
The number of visitors to Kenya was 1.8 million in 2011, and dropped to 1.2 million in 2015, according to the Kenya National Bureau of statistics. In Tanzania, the Tourism Sector Survey puts the figures at 1.1 million visitors in 2015, up from 867,994 tourists in 2011.
Total tourist arrivals to Uganda have grown from 1.15 million in 2011 to 1.7 million in 2015 according to Uganda Tourism Board.
In Rwanda tourists numbers rose from 900,000 visitors in 2011 to 1.3 million in 2015, according to the Rwanda Development Board.
Source:The East African