East African states seek to boost tourist arrivals

By Xinhua
On 22 November 2023 at 08:14

The seven member states of the East African Community (EAC), a regional bloc, on Monday pledged to improve policy and regulatory frameworks to boost tourist arrivals in a post-pandemic era.

Speaking at the third edition of the East African regional tourism expo underway in Nairobi, the Kenyan capital, senior officials highlighted the sector’s potential for growth, citing the abundance and diversity of scenic attractions.

More than 3,000 delegates, including ministers, industry leaders and investors, are attending the expo, running until Thursday and featuring exhibitions, seminars and business networking.

Alfred Mutua, Kenya’s cabinet secretary for tourism and wildlife, said that EAC member states should leverage targeted marketing and product diversification to stimulate growth in the tourism and hospitality sectors.

"As a region, we need to invest additional resources towards regional tourism promotion. The expo provides a platform to foster debate on how best to showcase regional tourist attractions to local and overseas travelers," Mutua stated.

Peter Mathuki, the EAC secretary general, said that tourist numbers have been on a growth trajectory in the bloc, recording 7.2 million arrivals in 2019, with projections aiming to increase numbers to 14.05 million by 2025.

"Following numerous efforts by the EAC partner states, and at the regional level, we are now seeing good signs of full tourism recovery," Mathuki said.

He urged countries to showcase the region’s scenic attractions such as sandy beaches of the Indian Ocean, snow-capped mountains, savannah grasslands, dense rainforests, wildlife and cultural heritage to attract more visitors.

Mathuki highlighted that the implementation of a regional tourism marketing strategy covering 2021 to 2025 is on track, adding that sports, culture and agro-tourism, if harnessed optimally, can boost arrivals.

KFatuma Albine (R), an official from Burundi, interacts with visitors on the first day of the travel expo at Kenyatta International Convention Centre (KICC) in Nairobi, capital of Kenya, on Nov. 20, 2023. (Photo by Fred Mutune/Xinhua)
Kenyan Minister for Tourism and Wildlife Alfred Mutua speaks at Kenyatta International Convention Centre (KICC) in Nairobi, capital of Kenya, on Nov. 20, 2023. (Photo by John Okoyo/Xinhua)