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Africa: Tourism suffers 60% drop in EAC countries

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With the world still trying to come to terms with the COVID-19 pandemic, Ministers of Tourism in the East African region are currently working on a protocol on how to market the bloc as a common tourism destination.

According to Taarifa.rw, the EAC deputy secretary-general in charge of Productive and Social Sectors, Christophe Bizivamo, stated that “COVID-19 has not only resulted in the decline in tourism and conservation-related jobs, but it has also exacerbated human-wildlife conflict in areas bordering wildlife conservancies.” He says that tourism in the region has nearly dropped by 60%.

East Africa’s tourism industry mainly depends on wildlife and contributes 7.5%-10% of the region’s gross domestic product (GDP) making it the second-largest foreign exchange earner for the region.

Bazivamo advises that promoting regional and domestic tourism to national parks and game reserves will prove crucial as the region waits for international travel to pick up.

The region is considering a shift to virtual wild game tours as a new strategy aimed at slowing the plummeting revenues from the sector.

“There’s a commitment to work together and there are already a number of milestones. Developing a regional wildlife policy for a coordinated approach in this recovery process is quite crucial,” Bizivamo says, adding that the region has also developed a number of strategies to combat poaching.

EAC bloc members have been hit differently by the devastating #Covid-19 pandemic. For example, John Waweru the Director General at Kenya Wildlife Service says his country’s tourism sector has suffered a 92% drop in revenue since the pandemic broke out in March.

Waweru reveals that the number of non-resident visitors – who are the industry’s footstool – dropping by a whopping 98%.

For Uganda, there are new strategies including intensified park patrol besides planning to diversify its foreign exchange income by investing in other areas so that the country’s economy will still stand if tourism falls.

Sam Mwandha, Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) Executive Director says they lose 25,000 visitors every month due to the closure of national parks and game reserves, resulting in huge revenue losses.

“We are looking into technology to help us do more with fewer resources. We are targeting 50% foreign visitors and 50%, regional visitors,” he says.

Mwandha argues that they have opened Savannah parks, but they are yet to have any visitors because the parks are located along the borders and our borders are still closed.

Source: taarifa.rw

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