Africa: East African Tourism Platform Chairperson, Odek urges region to open skies to promote tourism

Odek

Chairperson of the East African Tourism Platform (EATP), Fred Odek has called on countries in the East African Community (EAC) to liberalise their airspaces and open up skies to promote the tourism industry in the region.

According to theexchange.africa, Odek, said the existing restrictive pacts, such as the Bilateral Air Service Agreements (BASAs), were disrupting the harmonisation of air transport services.

Odek called upon the partner states to complete the EAC regulations to facilitate the liberalisation of air travel in the region.

He spoke during the official opening of the 2nd EAC Tourism Expo in Bujumbura, Burundi.
“The Partner States should also grant rights to each other the 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th and 5th freedoms in line with the Yamoussoukro Decision of which all Partner States are signatories,” he said.

He added that by working together, Partner States could ease mobility to benefit travel in the region.

READ: Africa: Burundi set to host 2nd East African Regional Tourism Expo

Benefits of open skies
Odek further said that airfares in the East African region remain extremely high because of the lack of open skies and heavy taxes levied by Partner States’ governments.

The EATP Chairperson hailed the East African Single Tourist Visa and the use of national IDs as travel documents across the region as some of the best policies that had been formulated by the EAC.

The expert further described the tourism sector as one of the leading sources of foreign exchange earnings for the region. He added that based on GDP losses by region, EAC tourism was the second most affected region globally by the pandemic after Central America.

“Nonetheless, this sector is resilient and one of the most important to get our economies back on a growth path,” he said.

“In 2022, we are experiencing a recovery as the COVID-19 pandemic has been contained in most of our key source markets, and international travellers are now fully confident in travelling. However, arrivals and revenues are still less than 2019 levels,” Odek added.

 

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