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Polishing Destinaation East Africa's Tourism Jewel

  • Basedonrecentincreasingtouristarrivalsandspending,tourismwithintheEAChassigni cantpotential for growth. As a result, with a major focus on competitiveness, these countries are in their best-ever position to harness the development promise of expanded and sustainable tourism.

  • Tourism competitiveness is the ability of a destination to create, integrate and deliver tourism experiences, including value-added goods and services considered to be important by tourists. These experiences sustain the resources of a destination, and help it maintain a good market position relative to other destinations.

  • Since, its inception EATP has tremendously lobbied for improved tourism competitiveness through development of single tourist visa, reduction of visa fees, reduction of VAT on tourism services and reduction of work-permit fees within the EAC.

  • On visa fees, Kenya, Rwanda and Uganda have waived fees for particular nationalities in order to allow easy access to the region’s diverse tourism products. On the same note, Uganda has reduced visa fees for a single entry visa from US$100 to US$50. Rwanda has even gone a higher notch by granting a 90-day visa-free stay to particular nationalities.

  • Inresponse,partnerstateshavemadesigni cantprogressinpolicyreformsaimedatenhancingthe region’s tourism competitiveness.
  • Ontheotherhand,signi cantprogresshasbeenattainedinthereductionofVATontourismservices; Kenya for instance, exempts entry to national parks (park fees) and tour operators’ commissions from VAT. Uganda has followed suit by waiving VAT on upcountry hotels, safari lodges and camps.

  • Onworkandresidentpermitfees,Kenya,UgandaandRwandahavewaivedfees;enablingeasier movement of labour among themselves. Tanzania, on the other hand, has reduced them by half.

  • While EATP commends Tanzania’s gesture as a major boost on enjoyment of freedoms of the common market protocol, we still urge the country to scrap the fees altogether; in line with other partner states.

    PARTING SHOT

  • EATP continues to push for reforms that aim at enhancing competitiveness of Destination East Africa. Our focus is to improve tourism within the wider context of trade, transport, infrastructure and communication.

  • Policy reforms, such as zero-cost work permits-enabling free movement of labour, single tourist visa and use of IDs as travel documents, have facilitated integration of East Africa Community and further enhanced competitiveness of Destination East Africa.

  • However, challenges still abound. Major reforms are needed to address market intelligence, product innovation, costly air fares and inadequate air frequency and connectivity within the region.

  • EATP calls for your unconditional devotion, in pushing our governments, to address the aforementioned challenges and help polish our tourism jewel.