News updates from the East African Tourism Platform

EATP News Highlights

EATP Highlights, New Perspectives and more…
Welcome to the 3rd issue of EATP e-Newsletter.
This publication focuses on lessons drawn from the single tourist visa, battle for East Africa’s skies, on-line visa application; fruits gathered from our advocacy agenda.
The gist of these initiatives is to spur the growth of intra-regional tourism within the East African Community. For a very long time, East Africa has been dependant on international tourism, which unfortunately is synonymous with seasonality. We can’t have sustainable tourism; if we don’t grow tourist travel within our region.
This is East Africa Year of Travel. Let’s design packages that will capture the spirit and help spread the benefits of tourism to every corner of the region.
I wish you an informative reading.

Bonifence Byamukama
EATP – Chairman

WHO WE ARE

East Africa Tourism Platform (EATP) is the private sector body for tourism in East Africa established to foster private sector interest and participation in the East African Community (EAC) integration process. We work closely with EAC state Ministries, EAC secretariat, East African Business Council and tourism sector organizations in all the member states.

OUR VISION

A vibrant and diverse single tourism destination providing exceptional experiences and services.

OUR MISSION

To promote intra and inter-regional tourism through advocacy, marketing, skills development and information sharing.

EATP HIGHLIGHTS
(1) EAST AFRICA SINGLE TOURIST VISA: A TRENDSETTER

  • Since its inception, East Africa Tourism Platform has significantly lobbied EAC partner states to address competitiveness. This resulted in the creation of a single shared tourist visa.
  • Learning from the experience of EATV, the Governments of Zambia, Zimbabwe, and Botswana have adopted Kaza Uni-Visa. By paying for only one visa, visitors to Zambia and Zimbabwe are able to travel between the two countries, and even take day-trips to Botswana, without any additional charges.
  • Covering 65 countries, the visa is valid for 30 days as long as visitors remain within Zambia and Zimbabwe and restrict themselves to park visits in Botswana.
  • Plans are underway for electronic visa application and even to extend the visa to Angola and Namibia to further encourage regional tourism.
  • Public and private sector driven solutions like this, are as a result of strategic advocacy and lobbying.
  • EATP has always been at the forefront in advocating for the curbing of visa-restrictions and talks with partners across Africa, which are finally bearing fruit.
  • We are delighted to see other regional blocs follow our example of a Single Tourist Visa. However, visa-restriction is still a major constraint in many countries in the continent. As a remedy, African Union Commission Chairperson Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma argues that freedom of movement of African citizens on the continent would be more advantageous than detrimental. We should never rest in our laurels. We need to continuously lobby for adoption of shared visas to enhance the competitiveness of our region and by extension our continent.
(2) BATTLE FOR EAST AFRICA’ SKIES

  • Air connectivity and affordability has been a major challenge throughout the region. The region is grappling with high fares, limited connectivity and poor quality of services.
  • Air travel within the region accounts for approximately 45 % of the total cost of a tour package. This has been attributed to high taxes and charges caused by a restricted aviation policy; that limits routes and frequencies and therefore the supply of aircraft seats.
  • Notwithstanding, all EAC member states are signatories to the Yamoussoukro Decision; the Decision’s implementation, in the region, has been slow and stunted by protectionism as partner states protect their national airlines from competition.
  • As East Africa Tourism Platform we have put up a spirited campaign for open sky policy to liberalize our region’s airspace.
  • Protectionism, poor safety standards, high cost of tickets, mismanagement, poor maintenance and planning have been blamed for dismal performance of some regional carriers. We have witnessed flights being delayed, passengers stranded and expensive fares.
  • Policy makers should take decisive and proactive actions to steer regional airlines to greater heights. Besides, innovative strategies are required to restructure the airlines and enable them to operate competitively.
  • This is an era for open sky policy. It is estimated that liberalization among the five EAC partner states will result in 46,320 additional jobs and annual revenue of US$ 202.1 million. Regional governments should act with speed and liberalize the airspace to let their citizens enjoy the benefits enshrined in Yamoussoukro Decision and AU Vision 2063.
  • Affordable air travel is not an option. Taxes should be reduced. Low-cost carriers supported. Connectivity enhanced. And the region operate as a single aviation market.
(3) ONLINE VISA APPLICATION IN KENYA, UGANDA AND RWANDA

  • Online visa application being implemented in Kenya, Uganda and Rwanda is one of the hallmarks of simplified visa acquisition regimes in the region. It is a game-changer that is expected to stimulate the growth of tourism in respective countries.
  • Some of its key highlights are:
  • Saves time that can otherwise be spent visiting embassies.
  • E-Visa can be obtained anywhere and everywhere; provided there is internet connection.
  • Travelers are spared the anxiety can comes with long-waiting periods that approval of visa applications takes in embassies.
  • Tour operators and travel agents are in a position to apply visas for their clients.
  • So far, Rwanda’s visa system is working effectively. However, incidents of system delays have been reported in Kenyan and Ugandan systems.
  • In this regard, we urge Kenyan and Ugandan immigration authorities to take necessary measures to safeguard the effectiveness of their systems while for Rwanda they should keep being innovative and adaptive to latest technological developments.
In Other News…
1) Upcoming Events:

  • Pearl of Africa Tourism Expo (POATE) 2017; event organized by Uganda Tourism Board will be hosted at the Kololo Independence grounds in Kampala, Uganda (17th -19th February, 2017). EATP will take this opportunity to launch the Destination East Africa Web Portal, TV Commercial and Documentary
  • ASTA destination expo; Kenya will be hosting the American’s Society of Travel Agents annual Expo (ASTA) from 24th to 26th February 2017 at KICC, Nairobi.
  • KILIFAIR; taking place on the grounds of Moshi Golf Club sports in Tanzania from 2nd to 4th of June 2017.
  • The Africa Travel Association (ATA); the 41st Annual World Tourism Conference in Kigali, Rwanda (dates to be confirmed).
  • Kwita Izina; the 13th edition of the annual Mountain Gorilla naming ceremony will take place in September (date to be confirmed) at the Volcanoes National Park of Musanze in Rwanda .
  • Magical Kenya Travel Expo; the seventh edition of MKTE organized by the Kenya Tourism Board will be held at KICC, Nairobi in October between 03rd and 05th.
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