East Africa Tourism Platform launches in Kigali


Following the launch at the EAC headquarters in Arusha last week the East African Tourism Platform has now also launched in Rwanda, coinciding with the annual Kwita Izina week, arguably the most important week on the calendar of event of the Rwanda Development Boards Tourism and Conservation Department.
Hence, the who is who not just from Rwanda but from the wider region were in Kigali ahead of the formal naming ceremony of the young born gorillas, and attended the EATP launch here.
Present from EATP was the platforms chairman Richard Rugimbana, Executive Secretary of the Tourism Confederation of Tanzania, Manzi Kayihura as vice chairman and representative of Rwandas private sector, besides Kenyas country representative Agatha Juma, Chief Executive of the Kenya Tourism Federation and the Burundian country representative of EATP Edouard Bagumako. Notably did from Uganda attend the chairman of the Association of Uganda Tour Operators as country representative, a sign that the embattled UTA president was clearly not seen as a true representative of Ugandas private sector see last weeks report on the broadside fired upon the UTA leadership by USAGA chair Herbert Byaruhanga who demanded immediate changes in the UTA set up to once again make it an inclusive and not selective industry apex body and indeed Boniface Byamukama did Uganda proud the way he represented the Pearl of Africa.
TradeMark East Africa was represented by Mark Priestley, Country Director for Rwanda, who explained the measures of support for EATP put into place to run a centrally based secretariat which can be used to both advance the regional integration and coming together of the national tourism sectors apex bodies, where functional, as well as immediately embarking on the key lobbying function with the East African Community and member government to advance the agenda of the tourism private sector. The main functions of EATP were described as:

– Reduce obstacles to intra and inter regional tourism
– Promote a regional tourism marketing approach
– Encourage continued human resource development and skills transfer
– Promote harmonized standards and codes of conduct for tourism facilities and services
– Facilitate access to affordable finance and risk management services
– Provide a platform for the exchange of data, information and networking opportunities

Rwanda has thrown her full support behind the EATP in order to promote increased dialogue between public and private sectors to take joint responsibility to develop the tourism industry regionwide and Ms. Rica Rwigamba, Head of Tourism and Conservation at the Rwanda Development Board, said: we are convinced here in Rwanda that the East African Tourism Platform is a good thing, is very much needed to promote dialogue and we fully support it from our side here in Rwanda before the Minister for the East African Community in the Rwanda government then declared EATP formally launched. Mr. EdwinSabuhoro, Chairman of Rwandas Tourism Chamber, part of the countrys Private Sector Federation, also expressed his optimism that a wider private sector cooperation in the tourism industry across the region would benefit the overall visibility and effectiveness of the national apex bodies when dealing with their respective governments.
Present from the secretariat was the programme coordinator Ms. Waturi Matu, who reiterated that present and future developments of EATP can be accessed and followed via Twitter on @TourismEA on Facebook via www.facebook.com/EastAfricaTourismPlatform or via their website www.ea-tourism-platform.org