East African Community (EAC) Partner States have been called upon to cooperate in packaging and promoting tourism investment opportunities and incentives in the region through different fora.
It has further been agreed that Regional Tourism Value Chains should be strengthened in order to spread tourism benefits to the local communities and EAC citizens in general.
These were part of the resolutions arrived at on the final day of the 2nd EAC Tourism Expo that concluded in Bujumbura, Burundi.
Partner States also agreed to organize regular EXPOs at the national level in a bid to enhance their visibility as tourism destinations and market their tourism attractions.
Noting that all seven EAC Partner States are rich in tourism resources and attractions which are mainly complementary in nature, it was agreed that there is a need to create synergies and collaborate in the promotion of the region as a single tourism destination.
It was further resolved that the Partner States should be innovative and develop tourism products that protect natural ecosystems and biodiversity while simultaneously addressing challenges such as environmental pollution and climate change.
It was agreed that there is a need for deliberate efforts by the EAC Secretariat in conjunction with the Partner States in involving women and youth in tourism as part of creating income generating opportunities through tourism for marginalised segments in the region.
To increase participation by both tour operators, exhibitors, respective public and private sector organisations at the annual Expo, it was agreed to brand and position the EXPO as a premier event in the region and internationally.
There is also need to work closely with the national Tourism Boards and private sector players, especially the East African Tourism Platform towards developing a database of buyers and trade partners for EAC as a bloc.
To boost the profile of the regional expo, it was agreed that there is a need for a budget at the Regional level to facilitate preparations and organization of the EXPO.
Seminars should be better structured and virtual links created to enhance and enrich engagement on topical issues being discussed.
Partner States were further called upon to fast-track the process of liberalizing their airpaces and open up the skies to promote the tourism industry in the region.
Speaking when she officially closed the expo on behalf of the President of Burundi, Burundi’s Minister of Commerce, Transport, Industry and Tourism, Madam Marie Chantal Nijimbere, urged Partner States to take advantage of the expo to market tourism attractions in the region jointly.
On his part, South Sudan’s Minister for Wildlife Conservation and Tourism, Hon. Lt. Gen. Rizik Zackaria Hassan, said that the country was at an advanced stage in integrating all armed forces into the national army to ensure peace and security, which will in turn boost tourism in the country.
Also present at the function were Burundi’s EAC Affairs Permanent Secretary, Mr. Severin Mbarubukeye, South Sudan’s EAC Affairs Under Secretary, Hon. Andrea Ariik Malueth, and the Director of the Productive Sectors at the EAC Secretariat, Mr. Jean Baptiste Havugimana, among other dignitaries.