Tourism and Wildlife Management
Collectively promoting and marketing the Community as a Single Tourist Destination while conserving and ensuring sustainable utilisation of wildlife and other tourist sites.
Tourism is one of the most significant sectors in all the economies of the EAC region. The sector contributes an average of about 17% to export earnings and its contribution to GDP is quite substantial averaging at around 10%. It generates about 7% of employment in the region. Moreover, tourism has important linkages with other sectors of the economy including agriculture, manufacturing, insurance, and finance among others.
Owing to its socio-economic significance in the region, tourism is one of the key productive sectors that have been identified for cooperation in EAC. Cooperation in the sector is provided for under Article 115 of the EAC Treaty, where Partner States undertake to develop a collective and coordinated approach to the promotion and marketing of quality tourism into and within the Community. In particular, Partner States undertake to:
- co-ordinate policies in the tourism industry and establish a framework of cooperation in the sector that will ensure equitable distribution of benefits;
- establish a common code of conduct for private and public tour and travel operators, standardize hotel classifications and harmonize the professional standards of agents; and
- develop a regional strategy for tourism promotion whereby individual efforts are reinforced by regional action.
Related to tourism, EAC Partner States cooperate in wildlife conservation as stipulated by article 116 of the EAC Treaty, where they undertake to develop a collective and coordinated policy for conservation and sustainable utilisation of wildlife and other tourist sites in the Community: In particular, they undertake to:
- Harmonize policies on wildlife conservation;
- Exchange information; and
- co-ordinate efforts in controlling and monitoring encroachment and poaching activities.
Key Regional Programmes and Activities
Following are key programmes and activities that have been implemented or are on-going in the tourism and wildlife sectors.
Common Classification Criteria for tourism accommodation establishments and restaurants
EAC has developed Common Classification Criteria for tourism accommodation establishments and restaurants. Partner States have undertaken classification and there are over 500 establishments that are already star rated across the region. The criteria are currently under review to ensure that they take into account the emerging trends in the tourism and hospitality sector.
Joint tourism promotion at international and regional trade fairs
EAC Partner States have been undertaking joint tourism promotion at the World Travel Market (WTM) in London, United Kingdom and International Tourism Bourse (ITB) in Berlin, Germany since 2007/2008. In addition, the EAC Secretariat participates in tourism expos taking place in the region. This aims at projecting and creating visibility of EAC as a single tourism destination.
Preferential Rates for EAC Citizens for tourist attraction sites and/or hotels
Public tourist sites such as national parks, reserves and museums in the region offer preferential rates for EAC citizens across the region. In this regard, EAC citizens are charged rates that apply to the nationals of the Partner States. Tourist accommodation establishments have also adopted this model.
Regional Tourism Marketing Strategy
A draft Regional Tourism Marketing Strategy has been developed through a consultative process. The draft Strategy is in the final stages of development and it is aimed at reinforcing the individual efforts of Partner States and providing a framework for cooperation in the promotion and marketing of tourism within the region and internationally.
Strategy to combat poaching and illegal trade in wildlife and wildlife management
The Strategy was developed through a consultative process and was adopted in 2017. The Strategy revolves around six strategic objectives, namely, strengthening policy and legal frameworks; enhancing law enforcement capacities; strengthening international and regional collaboration; promoting education and public awareness about wildlife crime; promoting research development; and increasing capacity of local communities to pursue sustainable livelihoods. Some of the initiatives that are being currently implemented under this strategy are the formulation of a regional wildlife conservation and management policy, economic valuation of wildlife resources in key transboundary landscapes, development of Trade in Wildlife Information Exchange (TWIX) System, and enhancing the capacity of wildlife law enforcement officials.
Tourism in the East African region has many opportunities. While affording the travelers an impressive range of options in exploration and relaxation, the region presents incredible potential for investors across the tourism value chain. This includes investment opportunities in the tourism accommodation sub-sector, attraction sites, tour operations, and travel agents among others. Partner States offer diverse investment incentives such as custom duty exemptions for certain items used in the sector.
Some of the challenges facing the tourism and wildlife sector include:
- Inadequate and inefficient infrastructure;
- Negative travel advisories from source markets;
- Stiff competition from relatively cheaper destinations;
- Inadequate financial and human resource;
- Absence of harmonised policies;
- Limited participation in joint international and regional tourism promotion fairs and exhibitions;
- Lack of common approach to implementation of international and regional treaties or agreements;
- Poaching and wildlife habitat loss;
- Inadequate Research and Development; and
- High susceptibility to disasters and pandemics.