EAC to encourage more Asian tourists
Tourism businesses in Uganda, Kenya and Rwanda will be pleased to learn that a boost in Far East Asia and specifically Chinese tourist numbers could be on the horizon, as the ‘Coalition of the willing’ single tourist visa includes commitment to making it easier for all visitors to obtain a visa that attracts single charge. Despite the recently security turmoil in the region especially terrorism that has seen countries like Kenya handed travel bans by UK and US, the number of Chinese tourists arriving for short-term visits to region has continued to grow to record numbers in the past five years according to preliminary figures released few days ago with Tanzania being the preferred destination followed by Uganda and Kenya. Domestically tourism has slowed down in the three countries due to economic difficulties and high cost of living although the coming festive season is expected to boost local tourism significantly, as more East Africans travel within the East African Community countries thanks to free movement of people guaranteed under the economic bloc’s integration process.
Kenya and Tanzania are expected to benefit more than the rest of EAC member states because of their famed sandy beached across the East African coast with Mombasa, Kilifi, Malindi, Zanzibar, Bagamoyo and Dar Es Salaam being the preferred Christmas destinations for East Africans. The strong numbers of Malaysian, Thais, Chinese and South Koreans visitors have provided much needed support for the more than 2 million people employed in the tourism sector in East Africa, as well as hospitality industry, transport and accommodation businesses with rates having double compared to six years ago. To achieve their targets, tourism industry players are expected to increase their skills and knowledge to be able to serve the billions of dollar industry better. The tourism stalwarts are also expected to adopt an attitude of lifelong learning to continuously improve their careers. Business entities and entrepreneurs in Tourism sector in East African region need to anticipate opportunities in the travel and tourism sector.
The charm of East Africa remains irresistible to many including myself and that is why millions of international tourists flow into the region annually and is fortunate to have its fair share of the global tourism market. Tourist attractions, hence tourism commercial activities, in the East African region largely comprises the exploration its natural environment and ecology and its necessary to protect priceless resources. The ‘coalition of the willing’ seemed to have acknowledges the potential of tourism industry, as it is one of high-growth industries that could be used to drive the three Government’s infrastructure transformation programme that they launched in Kampala earlier this year followed by meetings in Mombasa Kenya and Kigali Rwanda. Tourism is one of the projects that were identified to spur the growth of the ‘coalition of the willing’ between now and 2018, providing almost three million job opportunities.