EATP tackles hindrances to East Africa as a destination

In a brainstorming session involving the five members States which make up the East Africa Tourism Platform, practical and proactive steps have been identified and earmarked as necessary footholds to where actions are necessary in order to eliminate the hindrances to seamless and competitive activities in marketing the East Africa as a destination with practical possibility. The meeting took place at Elevate Suites in Kigali on the 3rd and 4th of February 2016.

Invited to the meeting were CEOs and Executive Directors of Private Sector Tourism

Associations in the five East African countries; Burundi, Rwanda, Kenya, Tanzania and

Uganda. Tourism Boards in the East African Community member states were also invited

as EATP fosters private/public sector collaboration in matters of tourism in the region.

These stakeholders were brought as policy makers and influencers, they were gathered

in the same room to discuss challenges and opportunities of developing tourism in EAC

and promoting it as a single destination.

For two days, EATP challenged the participants to look beyond their differences and

challenges at their national levels and rally their strengths behind finding solutions to

common problems. Carmen Nibigira, EATP Regional Coordinator, emphasized that

solutions will have to come from all of the five partner states, with a unified vision and

collaboration towards developing regional tourism. Ms. Nibigira hoped the forum gave

each tourism stakeholder an opportunity to borrow a leaf from each other in their efforts

to develop tourism in East Africa.

Few priorities emerged from the two days Forum that are common to the five countries

as: Policy Regulations, Product Development and Marketing, Skills Development and


EATPEATP called on all participants to see inter and intra-regional tourism as something to be

embraced for the good of EAC. EATP believes that some of the challenges faced by the

tourism sector in the region, such as lack of open skies policies, competitiveness, product

development, diversity and infrastructures (hard and soft), can be lobbied together and

each participant called to be the agent of change. “EATP is represented by each single

to collaborate, build bridges and strengthen the vision of EATP of a vibrant and diverse

single tourism destination providing exceptional experiences and products” stated Manzi

Kayihura, chairman of EATP, while addressing the participants. The fact that tourism

board of Rwanda, Uganda and Rwanda were presented in the room showed that the

solutions to the challenges facing the private sector can’t be solved without the

involvement of the public sector. Mr Stephen Asiimwe, Head of Uganda Tourism Board,

Mrs Belise Kariza, Chief Tourism officer of Rwanda and Mr Jonathan Mbiyu, Regional

Marketing Director at Kenya Tourism Board urged all tourism stakeholders to consolidate

their efforts in forging synergies in driving regional tourism through guided policies and

strategies. The key message was to shift the lenses to domestic and regional tourism in

driving their marketing and products development plans. Tanzania and Burundi, even

though they haven’t joined the single tourist visa, were invited to attend all regional

meetings organized whether through Northern Corridor as observers as well as East Africa

Business Council and East Africa Community.

The private sector is half of the solution in the equation; the other half is government led

initiatives. Creating an enabling environment for tourism business is the mandate of the

government through its agencies such as the tourism boards and hence, this forum was

a much needed platform to understand their position and the private sector to voice

their concerns. EATP supported by its partners in the private and public sector is therefore

seeking strategic engagement with direct and concrete actions from both parties in

driving inter and intra- regional tourism.

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