The second edition of the East Africa Regional Tourism Exhibition is slated to take place in Burundi next month after the first successful edition in Tanzania last year.
The East African Community (EAC) has said that the 2nd EAC Regional Tourism EXPO will be hosted by Burundi from September 23 to 30 simultaneously with the annual World Tourism Day celebrations.
Statement, issued by the EAC Secretariat in Tanzania’s northern city of Arusha on Wednesday this week, said that the second edition of the East African Regional Tourism Expo (EARTE) will be taking place at Circle Hippique de Bujumbura in Burundian capital Bujumbura.
The statement said that the 2022 regional tourism expo is expected to attract over 250 exhibitors from over 10 countries, 120 international and regional travel agents and buyers, as well as 2,500 trade visitors.
Main objective of the tourism expo is to promote EAC as a single tourism destination, the statement said.
The tourism expo is also aimed at providing a platform for tourism service providers’ business-to-business engagements, creating awareness of tourism investment opportunities, and addressing challenges affecting the tourism and wildlife sectors in the region, the statement said.
The first regional tourism exhibition for the six member states of the East African Community (EAC) took place early in October last year in Arusha, Tanzania, attracting key personalities and policy makers from several tourist companies across the regional bloc.
The theme for the 2022 EXPO is “Rethinking Tourism for Social Economic Development in the East African Community”, the statement said.
According to the statement, the theme resonates with the United Nations World Tourism Day theme, that urges tourism destinations and stakeholders around the world to re-model tourism, following the devastating impact of COVID-19 on the sector.
Christophe Bazivamo, the EAC deputy secretary general in charge of Productive and Social Sectors, said there are strong signs of tourism recovery in all of the EAC member states – Burundi, Kenya, Rwanda, South Sudan, Tanzania, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Uganda.
“We have noted that the tourism business is coming back and we are confident that by 2024 the region will have fully recovered,” said Bazivamo.
Bazivamo encouraged all tourism service providers in the EAC region to take advantage of the expo to showcase their offerings and engage with buyers from the region, as well as from around the world.
The Regional Tourism Expo will also create awareness on tourism investment opportunities in the East African region. Participants, including the tourism policy makers, will also chart out and discuss challenges affecting tourism development and wildlife conservation in the EAC region.
Through the Second edition of the EARTE, the EAC partner states will be ready to receive tourists from outside the region then provide them with multi-destination tourism packages through combined itineraries within the East African block.
The number of tourists arriving in the EAC region had dropped by about 67.7 percent last year to about 2.25 million international visitors, causing a $4.8 billion loss from tourist revenues. The EAC region had earlier projected to attract 14 million tourists in 2025 before the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Development of multi-destination tourism packages and tourism investment opportunities and incentives, combating of poaching and illegal wildlife trade were the key strategies need to for regional tourism development”, said Dr. Peter Mathuki, the EAC Secretary General.
Tourism sector is one of the most important areas of cooperation for EAC owing to its contribution to the economies of Partner States in terms of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) about 10 percent, export earnings 17 percent and jobs about seven (7) percent.
Tourism also provides linkages with other sectors that are instrumental in our integration such as agriculture, transport and manufacturing are quite immense, Dr. Mathuki said earlier.
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.
East African member states share the tourism and wildlife as common resources through the cross-border movements of wildlife, tourists, tour operators, airlines and hotel owners.