East Africa Tourism Platform’s fifth anniversary a major milestone


(Posted 18th June 2017)

The EAST AFRICA TOURISM PLATFORM, in short known as EATP, is celebrating 5 years of existence.

Back then did key tourism players approach Trademark East Africa and impressed upon them urgent need to support the tourism private sector across the East African Community for closer integration.

EATP since then has come a long way, faced challenges and also triumphed in many instances. The regional members look with pride at the strides made and have confidence in the foundation which has been laid in the East African Community.

Since inception in 2012 has EATP managed to facilitate several reforms that have positively impacted East Africa’s tourism industry. The organization has constantly engaged policymakers and championed for the private sector. As a result, they have received recognition from across the globe, with notable examples from UN World Tourism Organization and the World Bank. In the words of a World Bank publication (2016) ‘EATP has shown leadership in attempting to champion and facilitate a collective, coordinated and simultaneous approach to enhancing East Africa’s competitiveness in travel and tourism‘.

The organization played a critical role in the pursuance of a Single Destination Brand showcasing East Africa as One in Tourism Expos, zero-cost work permit-enabling free movement of labour, The Single Tourist Visa now in place between Kenya, Uganda and Rwanda, Interstate Pass travel among these three countries for duly registered expatriates, the establishment of a Joint Tourism Marketing Committee and the launch of a Joint Stand/Booth at WTM and ITB Berlin. National tourism private apex bodies were during this period also strengthened and these organizations are now able to lobby at national and regional levels.

EATP would like to acknowledge partner states’ political goodwill, leadership styles and steadfast commitment to integration and strengthened cooperation in regional tourism development and marketing and while much remains to be done has much also been achieved.

EATP is experiencing challenges attributed to lack of innovation in product development, unverifiable returns on investment from joint initiatives, inadequate accurate and up-dated data, changing business dynamics, negative perceptions, travel advisories, costly air fares, inadequate air frequency and restrictive bilateral air service agreements pointing to the herculean task ahead.

Moving forward, EATP will continue to position East Africa as one destination and work together with partners to fulfill EATP’s advocacy agenda, vision and mission.

Sincere gratitude is expressed to Trade Mark East Africa, the EAC partner states, the Ministries of Tourism, the Tourism Boards, the East Africa Business Council, the Private Sector Apex Bodies among other partners for their steadfast support and commitment to the ideals of regional tourism within the East African Community. EATP’s and their membership’s commitment to a Single Competitive East Africa Tourism Destination remains unchanged.
A common web platform www.visiteastafrica.org was established towards that end.

Among the success stories which can now be told are, among others, several listed below:

• EATP has facilitated business and networking opportunities for regional travel and tourism practitioners in Kwita Izina, Karibu Fair, Magical Kenya 2016, KiliFair and Pearl of Africa.

• Approximately 2,500 regional business operators have been given the opportunity to trade and learn on regional products through B2B, exhibitions, trade-fairs and destination trainings.

• Cross border movement across the region has realized an average year on year growth of 2% since 2014.

• In 2015, the number of regional tourist arrivals from within the EAC member states was approximately 852,000 representing 65% of tourism arrivals.

• This is chiefly attributed to the single tourist visa. More than 10,000 EATVs valued at US$ 1.5 Million have been sold in Kenya, Rwanda and Uganda.

• Drawing lessons from Kenya’s Tembea Kenya, Uganda and Rwanda are running Turambule Uganda (Visit Uganda) and Tembera-U-Rwanda (Visit Rwanda) campaigns respectively. They anticipate a 15% growth in regional tourist arrivals within the span of 1 year.

Towards that end was travel throughout the region and in particular among the countries which embraced the single tourist Visa and the Interstate Pass Travel arrangements greatly enhanced:

Uganda for instance became Kenya’s top African tourist source market. The country ranks 4th position in Kenya’s global tourist arrivals. At the close of 2016, the Ugandan market recorded a remarkable growth of 75.7% increase in arrivals closing at 51,023 arrivals up from 29,038 in 2015.

In the same period, Kenya recorded a 3.7% growth in Rwandan tourist arrivals posting 11,658 arrivals up from 11,242 in 2015.

On the other hand, domestic tourism has been recording positive growth every year.

At a close of 2016, a total of 3.6 million bed nights were taken up by Kenyans compared to 3.1 million in 2015; representing a growth rate of 14.6%. The domestic market is resilient and cushions the industry during low seasons.

East Africa now represents 44% of arrivals and 38% of revenues. Uganda occupies 2nd top source market for Rwanda with about 260,000 Ugandans visiting Rwanda annually.

Kenya is at 5th top position in arrivals to Rwanda with about 65,000 Kenyans visiting Rwanda annually.

Rwanda’s domestic tourism has been growing at a great pace. Rwandan visits to the three Rwandan National parks grew from 30,031 in 2015 to 35,142 in 2016; representing an increase of 18%.
Within the region, Kenya ranks highly as one of the key source markets for travelers to Uganda accounting for over 48%, followed by Rwanda at 35.3%; Tanzania at 11.2% and Burundi at 5.4%. This is mainly attributed to education, entertainment and visiting friends and family.

The annual Uganda Martyrs’ Day celebrations held on June 3rd, attracts more than 2.5 million pilgrims, with more than 35% traveling from neighbouring countries, spending more than 4 nights and approximately 200 million shillings (more than $55,500).

Tanzania’s tourism industry is interlinked with the Kenyan market. With support from EATP, Tanzania Association of Tour Operators (TATO) has boosted its business through the Annual Karibu Fair Travel Expo.

EATP has played an instrumental role in linking the tourism sector with regional bodies including East African Business Council (EABC). This has helped in lobbying for reforms. Besides, TATO is grateful to EATP for timely information sharing.

And for Burundi has EATP played an instrumental role in linking the tourism sector with the regional business community and helped in lobbying for policy reforms.

From this correspondent who stood by EATP from the word go and has given the organization itself and national bodies an open platform whenever they needed to engage with the wider public, it is congratulations on all these achievements and all the best for the coming years.

(Seen above are Ms. Carmen Nibigira and Ms. Waturi Wa Matu, the two
CEO’s of EATP during the last five years)

For added information about EATP and ongoing activities check out their
official website http://ea-tourism-platform.org/ or else follow their Facebook
page via

Facebook: East Africa Tourism Platform