From 23 to 27 September, the 2nd EAC Regional Tourism Expo took place in Bujumbura, Burundi under the theme, “Rethinking Tourism for Socio-Economic Development in the East African Community”. The Expo was jointly hosted by the Republic of Burundi and the East African Community. It attracted exhibitors from the East African region as well as stakeholders from the regional and continental tourism sector such as the African Tourism Board.
EAC and GIZ jointly participated at the Expo to showcase achievements of joint tourism measures and sensitize stakeholders on ongoing and newly planned activities. During the opening ceremony, the EAC Director of Productive Sectors, Jean Baptiste Havugimana, noted, “We are emphasizing development and promotion of multi-destination tourism packages that will encourage visitors to visit more EAC Partner States in a single trip. This is being supported by an initiative on branding the EAC as a Single Tourism Destination.” In this regard, the EAC officially launched a tourism promotional video under the “Tembea Nyumbani” regional campaign, which can be found here, showcasing the offerings of the region and encouraging East Africans to travel within their region. The video was jointly developed between EAC and Partner States’ Tourism Boards as well as GIZ via the SEAMPEC programme.
To enable all National Tourism Boards from Partner States to participate in the Expo, GIZ facilitated their presence. Hence, all seven EAC Partner States exhibited their products at the Expo and were able to strengthen their regional networks and partnerships that are a prerequisite to jointly create visibility for the EAC as a Single Tourism Destination. Additionally, Partner States representatives actively participated in different panel discussion and forums including an Investment Forum which centered its discussions and presentations on the investment opportunities in the seven EAC Partner States.
The Expo was graced by the presence of the Vice President of the Republic of Burundi, who participated at the official opening of the event, the Minister for Trade, Transport, Industry and Tourism of the Republic of Burundi, the Minister of Wildlife, Conservations and Tourism of the Republic of South Sudan, as well as Permanent and Under Secretaries of the East African Community Affairs of Burundi among other distinguished guests.
Last but not least, the expo was preceded by World Tourism Day celebrations in Gitega, Burundi, the country's capital and the origin of the Royal Drums. The Minister of Trade, Transport, Industry and Tourism of the Republic of Burundi hosted guests including the EAC Director of Productive Sectors, Chairman of the African Tourism Board, GIZ representatives, delegations from all the 7 Partner States and the local residents who were treated to the country's unique drum beats, songs, and dances.
As one of the key economic sectors in the East African Community (EAC), tourism contributes an average of about 17% to export earnings and makes a substantial contribution to the GDP averaging at around 9.5%. It generates about 7% of employment in the region.
To grow the sector even further, Partner States work together to jointly promote the East African region as single tourist destination, where tourists can easily travel across EAC Partner States and visit various tourism sites at affordable prices. In addition, after the impact of the COVID-19 Pandemic to the sector, the EAC Secretariat together with the Partner States developed and adopted the “East African Community Marketing Strategy 2021-2025”, which foresees the ‘EAC becoming the leading sustainable regional tourism destination in Africa’ and aims to ‘develop and promote inclusive and sustainable intra-regional and international tourism across the EAC region’.
In line with this strategy, the EAC in collaboration with GIZ via the “Support to the East African Integration Process Programme” (SEAMPEC II) are implementing various activities to promote the region and attract both interregional and global visitors. These activities include the development regional media campaigns, an EAC Tourism e-Catalogue for International tourists as well as EAC citizens to encourage them to travel the region.