EAC to roll out tourism post-coronavirus recovery plan

The East African Community (EAC) is set to roll out tourism recovery strategies after Covid-19 pandemic.

These will include ‘decisive measures’ urgently needed to mitigate the economic losses, it was announced here on Friday. The regional body says the growth rate in the bloc for 2020 will experience a drop due to the global pandemic. “This will be in line with the global trends”, the Rwanda State minister for EAC Affairs and Chair of the EAC Council of Ministers Nshuti Manasseh said.

With the easing of travel and allied restrictions to curb the spread of the virus, the region should now focus on economic recovery.

The minister revealed this when tabling the EAC budget for 2020/2021 before the virtual session of the East African Legislative Assembly (Eala).

He said the delayed $97.6 million budget will complement other partner states’ efforts to recover from Covid-19 disruptions.

Tourism contributes an estimated nine per cent of the EAC region’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and 20 percent of the export earnings.

In employment, it accounts for eight percent of employment, estimated to be 4.2 million direct and indirect jobs. The outbreak of Covid-19 dramatically affected the sector which is largely dependent on foreign visitors due to travel restrictions.

Tanzania had expected a record two million foreign tourists this year but the figure would drop by a half due to the pandemic.

Business analysts believe Covid-19 impact on tourism was most pinching because it is the major source of foreign exchange.

The EAC partner states for ensuring the borders remained open for the smooth flow of goods and services. Prof. Manaseeh also outlined other priorities to be taken during the current financial year to boost the tourism sector.

These will include finalization of the Protocol on Tourism and Wildlife Management and development of a regional policy on wildlife conservation and management.

The other is implementation of the Strategy to Combat Poaching and Illegal Trade and Trafficking of Wildlife and Wildlife products.

Tomorrow the EAC is expected to celebrate the World Tourism Day during an event that will take place at the Community headquarters.

The major world famous tourist attractions in the region include the annual wildebeest migration in the Serengeti ecosystem and snow covered mountains.