East African Community (EAC) member nations Burundi, Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania, South Sudan and Uganda have reportedly lost about 92 per cent revenues in the tourism sector due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
One of the most significant sectors in all the economies of the EAC region is tourism. The sector contributes an average of about 17 per cent to export earnings and its contribution to GDP is quite substantial averaging at around 10 per cent. It generates about 7 per cent of employment in the region. Moreover, tourism has important linkages with other sectors of the economy including agriculture, manufacturing, insurance, and finance among others.
According to EAC Secretary General, Peter Mathuki, tourist arrivals to the region fell from a pre-pandemic level of 6.98 million to 2.25 million at present.
He said: “The region is now open again for business. Despite the fact that the pandemic has reversed the gains that we had made in the tourism sector, we are quite confident that through collective and collaborative efforts, we should be able to bounce back to pre-pandemic levels of performance and even do better within a span of less than five years.”
Mathuki urged the EAC member states governments and other stakeholders to work together to market the region’s tourist attractions and products as part of efforts to ensure speedy recovery for the sector. He said that the region had drawn a number of important lessons from the pandemic especially in relation to the economic sectors that were hard hit.
“One lesson that stands out and resonates with most destinations around the world is the need to entrench resilience in the tourism sector,” said Mathuki, adding that the EAC will take a number of steps to enhance recovery in the sector.