RETREAT SETS AGENDA FOR FUTURE TOURISM COOPERATION IN EAST AFRICA
(Posted 13th October 2016)
Earlier this week did the Tourism Ministers from Kenya and Uganda and ministerial representatives from the other East African Community member countries, alongside the private sector, meet at the Lake Elementaita Serena resort to take stock and plan ahead for the upcoming international trade show season.
Host was the East Africa Tourism Platform, the regional tourism apex body, and Carmen Nibigira, Coordinator of the programme, welcomed a large number of participants to the event.
(Seen here seated from left to right Ms. Belise Kariza, Chief Tourism Officer Rwanda, Hon. Najib Balala, Cabinet Secretary for Tourism Kenya and Uganda’s Tourism and Wildlife Minister Prof. Ephraim Kamuntu, together with EATP Chairman Mr. Bonifence Byamukama, the AG CEO of Kenya Tourism Mrs. Jacinta Nzioka and other stakeholders)
EATP made available information of what was discussed at the meeting and what resolutions were taken to drive the industry cooperation in East Africa and in particular among the NCIP [Northern Corridor Integration Projects] countries further ahead.
NCIP MINISTERS’ COMMITMENT TO JOINT REGIONAL TOURISM MARKETING
The Ministers of Tourism from Northern Corridor Integration Projects (NCIP) – Kenya, Uganda and Rwanda, accompanied by Chief Executive Officers of their respective Tourism Boards, senior Ministry officials, NCIP coordinators and EATP officials – met earlier this week at the Lake Elementeita Serena Camp in Kenya’s Rift Valley.
The objective of the retreat was to revitalize regional tourism and more specifically review achievements and redefine the tourism vision of the NCIP. The following achievements, on-going projects, challenges and resolutions were discussed.
i. Capacity building of travel trade practitioners through destination training, familiarization trips & regional stakeholder forums. ii. Close collaboration between private and public sectors.
iii. Joint Promotion of Destination East Africa – in regional & international fairs.
iv. Standardization of accommodation facilities through EAC classification.
v. Travel facilitation – through East Africa Tourist Visa, resident permits and Use of IDs and interstate passes as travel documents.
i. Development of East Africa Destination Portal
ii. Establishment of Tourism Information Desks at key entry points.
iii. Joint Awareness campaigns on the use of East Africa Tourist Visa, IDs and Resident permits.
iv. Joint Pavilion at International Expos such as ITB Berlin Convention and World Travel Market.
i. Changing business environment and dynamics
ii. Costly air transport
iii. Inadequate airline frequency and connectivity within the region
iv. Inadequate, accurate and up-to-date tourism data
v. Lack of innovation in product development
vi. Lack of verifiable returns on investment from joint initiatives
vii. Negative perceptions about the region
viii. Travel advisories
The ministers reinforced their commitment to transforming tourism in East Africa through:
i. Adapting latest technological innovations in product development and marketing.
ii. Collaborating in influencing positive media coverage of the region.
iii. Developing a clear strategy for product development and diversification.
iv. Focusing marketing efforts on increasing consumer demand through road-shows in tourist generating countries.
v. Harmonizing of Tourism & Wildlife Management regulations.
vi. Investing in market intelligence.
vii. Reviewing of EAC Hotel classification criteria.
Wrote Carmen Nibigira then in closing:
‘As East Africa Tourism Platform, we are encouraged by the zeal exhibited by NCIP ministers in redefining the vision of regional tourism development and marketing within the EAC. In the process Kenya, Rwanda and Uganda are ahead of the pack in realizing the dream of One Destination-One visa East Africa, while Burundi and Tanzania are still invited. Further, EATP will tirelessly keep lobbying our policymakers to work jointly to realize EAC’s vision 2050‘.