- Branded as the East African Regional Tourism Expo (EARTE) 2021, the exhibition is scheduled to open from October 9 to 16.
- The event is has attracted key tourism players from the EAC member states.
- The EARTE 2021 is the first regional tourism expo to take place in East Africa, targeting to build up a joint program that will bring together the 6 member states to create regional tourism initiative.
Participants to the EARTE includes hosted international buyers and media who will take part in exposing the rich tourist attractions available in East Africa from each individual states.
The exhibition will be followed by a familiarization trip for hosted international buyers and media to some of the iconic tourist sites in Tanzania and EAC comprising the Indian Ocean and lake beaches, wildlife, scenic beauty, historical sites, and rich cultural heritage.
The theme of the forthcoming exhibition is “Promotion of Resilient Tourism for Inclusive Socio-economic Development.” The theme has been designed to inform the need to develop and revamp the tourism sector in a sustainable manner as to mitigate with the impact on the sector by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The EAC region lost close to 70 percent of international tourist arrivals in 2020, coupled with massive losses in tourism earnings and tourism related jobs, said the EAC Secretary General, Peter Mathuki. Wildlife conservation in the region suffered a major blow from the pandemic through the loss of conservation revenue, most of which is generated through tourists visiting the protected areas and wildlife conservancies across the region.
The tourism sector is one of the most important areas of cooperation for the EAC, owing to its contribution to the economies of its Partner States in terms of GDP (about 10%), export earnings (17%), and jobs (about 7%). Its multiplier effect and linkages with other sectors that are instrumental in its integration such as agriculture, transport, and manufacturing are quite immense.
Article 115 of the EAC Treaty provides for cooperation in the tourism sector, whereby the 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, they undertake to coordinate policies in the tourism industry, standardize hotel classification, and develop a regional strategy for tourism promotion, whereby individual efforts are reinforced by regional action.
EAC member states have been promoting regional tourism at international tourism fairs, including the World Travel Market (London) and International Tourism Bourse (ITB) in Berlin.
The Regional Tourism exhibition will then be hosted by the Partner States on a rotational basis.
During its Extra-ordinary Meeting held on July 15, 2021, the EAC Sectoral Council on Tourism and Wildlife Management decided that the United Republic of Tanzania should host the 1st EAC Regional Tourism EXPO in Arusha in October 2021. The choice of Arusha – Tanzania’s tourist hub and safari city – has been made to ease access by participants from all Partner States.
The objective of the exhibition is to promote the EAC as a single tourism destination, provide a platform for tourism service providers’ business to business (B2B) engagements, and create awareness on tourism.
The event will comprise exhibitions by tourism service providers, speed networking and B2B meetings, and seminars on tourism and wildlife sub-themes. In respect to the tourism sector, these sub-themes will revolve around aspects such as tourism resilience and crisis management, digital tourism marketing, development of multi-destination tourism packages, and tourism investment opportunities and incentives.
On the other hand, wildlife-related sub-themes will include Combating Poaching and Illegal Wildlife Trade and economic value of wildlife in the region.
Most important as well, the exhibition will bolster intra-regional tourism in addition to international tourism through promotion of tourism product offerings for EAC citizens. This will build up on previous efforts such as the decision by the Council of Ministers that Partner States offer preferential rates for citizens visiting tourist attractions within the region with rates that apply to the nationals.