The 1st EAC Regional Tourism EXPO will be held from 9th to 11th October, 2021 in Arusha, Tanzania.
The United Republic of Tanzania in conjunction with the EAC Secretariat will host the three-day EXPO. It will be followed by a familiarization trip for hosted international buyers and media to some of the iconic tourist sites in the region from 12th to 16th October, 2021. As a region, East Africa is endowed with a unique combination of tourist attractions comprising tropical beaches, abundant wildlife in natural habitats, scenic beauty and a geographically diverse landscape that spark imagination.
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.
According to the EAC Secretary General, Hon. (Dr). Peter Mathuki, the EAC region lost close to 70% of international tourist arrivals in 2020 coupled with massive losses in tourism earnings and tourism related jobs. Similarly, wildlife conservation in the region suffered a major blow from the pandemic through loss of conservation revenue most of which is generated through tourists visiting the protected areas and wildlife conservancies across the region.
Tourism sector is one of the most important areas of cooperation for EAC owing to its contribution to the economies of our Partner States in terms of GDP (about 10%), export earnings (17%) and jobs (about 7%). Its multiplier effect and linkages with other sectors that are instrumental 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 whereby the Partner States undertake to develop a collective and coordinated approach to the promotion and marketing of quality tourism into and within the Community. In particular, they undertake to co-ordinate policies in the tourism industry, standardize hotel classification and develop a regional strategy for tourism promotion whereby individual efforts are reinforced by regional action.
Besides, undertaking joint tourism promotion at the international tourism fairs including the World Travel Market (London) and International Tourism Bourse (ITB) in Berlin, the Sectoral Council on Tourism and Wildlife Management agreed on having a Regional Tourism EXPO hosted by the Partner States on a rotational basis.
During its Extra-ordinary Meeting held on 15th July, 2021, the EAC Sectoral Council on Tourism and Wildlife Management decided that the United Republic of Tanzania hosts the 1st EAC Regional Tourism EXPO in Arusha in October 2021. The choice of Arusha for the venue of the EXPO has been informed by the fact that the city is a tourism hub for Tanzania and it would be easily accessible by participants from all Partner States.
The overarching objective of the EXPO is to promote EAC as a single tourism destination, provide a platform for tourism service providers’ business to business (B2B) engagements, create awareness on tourism investment opportunities and address the challenges affecting the tourism and wildlife sectors in the region.
The EXPO will comprise exhibitions by the tourism service providers, speed networking and B2B meetings and seminars on tourism and wildlife sub-themes. In respect to the tourism sector, these sub-themes will revolve around aspects such as tourism resilience and crisis management, digital tourism marketing, development of multi-destination tourism packages and tourism investment opportunities and incentives. On the other hand, wildlife related sub-themes will include Combating Poaching and Illegal Wildlife Trade and economic value of wildlife in the region.
“The EXPO is expected to go a long way in reviving the EAC tourism following the unprecedent decline caused by COVID-19. It will bolster intra-regional tourism in addition to international tourism through promotion of the tourism product offerings for the EAC Citizens. This will build up on previous efforts such as the decision by the Council of Ministers that Partner States offer preferential rates for EAC citizens visiting public tourist attractions within the region whereby they are charged rates that apply to the nationals,” says the Deputy Secretary General in charge of the Productive and Social Sectors, Hon. Christophe Bazivamo.