The Cabinet Secretary (CS) for Tourism, Wildlife, and Heritage, Peninah Malonza, has presided over the launch of the 3rd East Africa Regional Tourism Expo (EARTE) and the Magical Kenya Tourism Expo, which are set to take place in Nairobi from November 20th to 22nd, 2023, at the Kenyatta International Convention Centre (KICC).
The EARTE is an event that is held annually on a rotational basis among member states of the East African Community (EAC), including Burundi, Kenya, Tanzania, South Sudan, Uganda, Rwanda, and the DRC.
The Regional Tourism Expo was first hosted by Tanzania in October 2021 in Arusha, while the second edition was hosted by Burundi in September 2022 in Bujumbura.
Kenya Tourism Board (KTB), together with the Ministry of Tourism, Wildlife, and Heritage, unveiled today’s event in order to celebrate the region of East Africa, whose partner states have come together to embrace unity and go far together economically, socially, and specifically in the area of tourism.
“The annual Magical Kenya Travel Expo continues to be the region’s flagship travel trade fair that brings together domestic, regional, and international tour operators, tour agents, destination agents, and various other players in the tourism trade to network and facilitate tourism business,” said Malonza as she launched the Expo preparations.
The CS explained that the 13th edition of the MKTE is another great opportunity for tourism stakeholders to connect and market their various products, noting that the expo has exponentially grown to attain continental status and that its aim is to move to the next level and become global.
According to the EAC Tourist Marketing Strategy 2021–2025, tourism contributed to the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of the EAC partner states at an average of 9.5 per cent in 2019. The percentage contribution was higher in Tanzania (17.2 percent) and Kenya (9.7 percent).
Furthermore, the sector contributed an average of 17 per cent to EAC total export with 25 per cent in Tanzania. In terms of employment, tourism contributed an average of 7.1 per cent to the total employment in the EAC translating to over 4 million jobs.
Also speaking at the event, State Department for EAC Affairs Principal Secretary (PS), Mr. Abdi Dubat, said that partner states have not fully ripped the benefits of the sector to their full potential due to various challenges that include limited product diversification, weak regional policy and institutional framework, limited multi-destination tourism product offerings, limited awareness of regional tourism destinations, inadequate funding of tourism promotional activities, and weak coordination mechanisms.
Therefore, the PS added, the partner states came up with measures to tackle these challenges, such as joint marketing of the region in international forums, developing criteria for classification of tourist accommodation, establishments, and restaurants in the region, developing an EAC tourism marketing strategy, a strategy to combat poaching, illegal trade, and trafficking of wildlife and wildlife products, and establishing a single tourist visa regime, which is in progress at the regional level.
“I thank the media for highlighting and conveying the invitation to the rest of the world to join us in November as we celebrate our rich diversity and showcase the numerous tourism-related investment opportunities available in Kenya and the rest of the EAC,” remarked Dubat.
By Carol Mawia and Shamim Kambi