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News: A record 14.5 million tourist arrivals expected in East Africa by 2025

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With projections indicating that tourist arrivals are expected to reach a record 14.5 million by the year 2025, the East African region is poised for a tourism boom.

According to The Monitor, this will more than double the number of foreign visitors to the region which stood at 7.2 million in 2019, before Covid-19 outbreak. The upward trajectory was announced by the EAC deputy secretary general (Customs, Trade and Monetary Affairs) Ms Annette Ssemuwemba in Nairobi.

She said this when opening the third EAC Regional Tourism Expo 20 (EARTEC’23) held annually and this time hosted at the Kenyan capital. Ms Ssemuwemba attributed the quick rebound of the tourism sector from the pangs of Covid-19 pandemic to diversification of tourism products. During the 2020/21 global pandemic, the region lost more than $4.8 billion and two million jobs in the tourism sector. Tourist arrivals to the region fell from 6.9 million before the pandemic to 2.2 million in 2020, causing the losses; the worst to hit the region.

READ; Africa: Uganda’s tourism sector swells with 76% increase of tourists from East Africa with Kenya leading at 46%

But with the rapid discovery from the severe impact of the disease and diversification, the bloc is eyeing for record visitors. “Whereas we are quite competitive in terms of beach and wildlife safari tourism, we are urging all EAC Partner States to diversify their tourism products,” she said. According to her, new tourism products being vigorously promoted include cultural tourism, sport tourism, sport tourism, agro tourism and golf tourism. “We are developing multi-destination thematic tourism packages that will encourage visitors to travel to more than one EAC Partner State in a single trip,” she added.

The Annual Tourism Expo is among the key initiatives that EAC has embarked on as part of implementing the Regional Tourism Marketing Strategy 2021-2025. The first Expo was successfully hosted at Arusha in Tanzania in October 2021 followed by the second in Bujumbura, Burundi last year. She said diversification of tourism products “beyond traditional tourism attractions” and joint promotion was a catalyst to market the region as a single tourism destination for the EAC. The three-day Expo provided an opportunity for EAC Partner States to create awareness of tourism investment opportunities and address the challenges affecting the tourism and wildlife sectors in the region.

READ; Africa: Nairobi Gears Up to Host Magical Kenya & East Africa Regional Tourism Expo In November 2023 to Increase Tourist Arrivals

The new EAC tourism brand, “Visit East Africa – Feel the Vibe,” was also launched during the event. It was aimed to promote the region as a single investment hub.

Kenya’s Cabinet Secretary in charge of Tourism and Wildlife, Dr. Alfred Mutua said the Expo provided an opportunity for the region to jointly showcase its unique resources. She said Kenya was set to introduce initiatives such as electric cars in parks and eco-rating schemes in our quest to propel tourism and our green growth agenda. Dr Mutua added that the Kenyan government is focusing on infrastructure improvement, security, incentives and marketing campaigns to sustain tourism growth.

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