April 30th, 2024

The EAC Tourism Barometer – A Comprehensive Tool to Assess East Africa's Tourism Landscape (GIZ)

Under Article 115 of the Treaty establishing the East African Community, member states are committed to coordinating tourism policies and promoting regional cooperation to ensure equitable benefit distribution. Despite these efforts, there remains a need for a unified approach to collecting and analysing tourism data to inform decision-making effectively.

From 3 to 5 April, tourism experts and statisticians from the EAC Partner States convened in Nairobi, Kenya, to finalise the EAC Tourism Barometer Report. The EAC Tourism Barometer serves as a comprehensive tool to measure and analyse tourism trends and performance across the region. It captures key indicators such as tourist arrivals, earnings, and the purpose of visits, providing valuable insights into East Africa's tourism landscape.

Through regular updates and a confidence index, the barometer offers valuable information on tourism performance and prospects, aiding stakeholders in strategic planning.

The meeting highlighted East Africa's tourism resurgence and roadmap for future growth. Experts from each Partner State shared updates on the performance of the sector, including the number of tourist arrivals. Countries like Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, and Rwanda were noted to have seen a significant increase in tourist arrivals in 2023. East Africa's tourism industry generated substantial earnings, with the majority of tourists visiting East Africa for leisure and wildlife experiences, contributing to the region's reputation as a top safari destination. During the discussions, it was evident that Kenya and Tanzania have attained a fast-paced recovery post-pandemic.

In the compilation of the first issue of the barometer, the analysis revealed that total tourism receipts to the EAC region fully recovered in 2023, 24% higher than the pre-pandemic levels. Kenya and Tanzania recorded the best recovery levels, recovering 53% and 30%, respectively, above the pre-pandemic levels. Burundi also registered a full recovery of receipts in 2023. Rwanda tourism receipts recovered 97% of the pre-pandemic level, while Uganda recovered 83% of the 2019 levels. In 2023, EAC tourism receipts reached US$ 7.7 billion. This was a 30.9% increase when compared to 2022 (US$5.9 billion) and 7.2 billion in 2019.

The proportion of intra-regional tourism (EAC) expanded from 33.2% in 2019 to 45% in 2020 and 2022 before shrinking slightly to 40% in 2023.

While highlighting these tourism trends, some Partner States noted the challenges they are facing in collecting complete data. The EAC pledged to support these countries in improving their data collection efforts to enhance and enable a broad understanding of the tourism sector and trends across the EAC region.

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Other key discussions of the meeting encompassed the expansion of the Tourism Barometer to track the effectiveness and performance of the "Visit East Africa – Feel the Vibe" tourism brand. This will enable the measurement of the impact of EAC’s marketing efforts to attract more visitors to the region as a single tourism destination.

In conclusion, the meeting approved the draft report and agreed to share it with the EAC Sectoral Council for final approval. The Partner States also committed to updating tourism data on the EAC Open Data Portal by June 30, 2024, while ensuring transparency and accessibility to all stakeholders.

Find more information on the EAC tourism sector here.