East African Community has started the push for marketing the region as a single tourism destination in a move aimed at easing the movement of visitors through unified tourism sector.

The proposal was reached when ministers responsible for EAC Affairs and Tourism and Wildlife Management gathered in Nairobi, Kenya for the opening of the third EAC Regional Tourism Expo (EARTE’23) and the Magical Kenya Travel Expo.

The Expo serves as a platform for EAC Partner States to showcase tourism investment opportunities and address challenges in the tourism and wildlife sectors.

The EAC Deputy Secretary General, Annette Ssemuwemba, highlighted the positive trajectory of regional tourism post-pandemic recovery.

Anticipating a rise in annual tourist arrivals to 14.05 million by 2025 from the 7.2 million recorded in 2019, she emphasised the need for diversification beyond traditional attractions.

The EAC is actively collaborating with Partner States to develop cultural tourism, sport tourism, agro-tourism, and golf tourism, among other offerings.

Ms Ssemuwemba highlighted the creation of multi-destination thematic tourism packages to encourage visitors to explore multiple EAC Partner States in a single trip. The Annual Tourism Expo aligns with the EAC’s Regional Tourism Marketing Strategy 2021-2025.

During the expo, the new EAC tourism brand, “Visit East Africa – Feel the Vibe,” was unveiled, with the goal of positioning the region as a singular investment hub.

Alfred Mutua, Kenya’s Cabinet Secretary in charge of Tourism and Wildlife, highlighted the importance of diversifying tourism products and promoting sustainability.

He said initiatives such as introducing electric cars in parks and eco-rating schemes underscore Kenya’s commitment to green growth.

Dr Mutua outlined the Kenyan government’s strategic focus on infrastructure improvement, security, incentives, and marketing campaigns to sustain tourism growth.

As part of a five-year plan, Kenya aims to achieve 5.5 million international tourist arrivals and a $6.3 billion annual contribution by 2028.

Peninah Malonza, Kenya’s Cabinet Secretary for EAC, Arid and Semi-Arid Lands, and Regional Development, commended EAC Partner States for their cooperation in establishing uniform criteria for the classification of hotels, restaurants, and tourist facilities to enhance quality standardisation.

Rebecca Kadaga, the 1st Deputy Prime Minister of Uganda and Minister for EAC Affairs, stressed the importance of leveraging natural resources like Lake Victoria. She urged the expedited implementation of the EAC Single Tourism Visa and the development of the EAC Tourism and Wildlife Protocol.