The three African countries that are part of the East African Community and whose three members constitute the Northern Corridor Integration Projects initiative, are revving up their joint tourism marketing programs to attract more international leisure and business visitors.
For Rwanda, Kenya, and Uganda, the focus will be on continuing to position the East African region as a single tourism destination, drawing on the depth and diversity of the attractions within the region and offering an estimated 141 million people as an attractive market for investment.
Joint tourism marketing brings together the government and private sector agencies in charge of tourism marketing, including Rwanda Development Board’s Department of Tourism and Conservation, Kenya Tourism Board, and Uganda Tourism Board, under the Northern Corridor Integration Projects Initiative.
Speaking during a press briefing in Kigali after a joint consultative meeting earlier in the week, Ambassador Yamina Karitanyi, the Head of the Tourism and Conservation Department at the Rwanda Development Board, said that the partner states collectively considered issues like security, infrastructure, and ease of access as central to ensuring domestic, regional, and international visitors’ confidence in their personal safety and comfort when touring East Africa.
“We have pledged to continuously and actively promote the Northern Corridor states as a joint destination. Security, ease of access, and tourist confidence remain a top priority for this destination. As you know, we introduced the East Africa tourism visa last year, and this already has had an impact. In addition to organizing joint events at fairs, we have organized travel trade and travel media trips for the groups to familiarize them with the offering,” Amb. Karitanyi said in a media release.
Fiona Ngesa, Assistant Regional Marketing Manager at the Kenya Tourism Board, indicated that the region remains a very safe destination for every tourist and that Kenya was addressing the security situation. “We want to reassure our domestic, regional, and international visitors that they will be safe and secure. We are open for business, and we, therefore, encourage all to come and sample the diversity of our tourism products,” she said
Since the launch of the common tourist visa for the three countries, and the visa-free travel for expatriates living in the three countries, besides allowing locals to travel with their ID instead of passports, visitor numbers have steadily risen while also positively impacting on the trade volumes between the three countries. Tanzania opted to stay outside this framework, as has incidentally problem-ridden Burundi, although the visible success of the cooperation among the other three countries of the EAC – Uganda, Kenya, and Rwanda – has the private sector of the two, aka “Coalition of the Unwilling,” beginning to apply pressure on their governments to join the various schemes in order to increase visitor numbers.