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EAC to market tourism as a block as regional expo kicks off in Nairobi

 CS Alfred Mutua when he officially opened the three-day East African Regional Tourism Expo and Magical Kenya Tourism Expo at KICC. [Courtesy of Kenya Tourism Board]

Tourism and Wildlife Cabinet Secretary Dr Alfred Mutua has called on the East African Community partner states to work together and market the region as a single tourism destination to attract more business from the sector.

Speaking while officially opening the third edition of East African Regional Tourism Expo (EARTE) and the 13th edition of the Magical Kenya Tourism Expo (MKTE), Mutua said the EAC region should adopt an integrated tourism marketing strategy in order to enhance competitiveness, attract more tourists and increased earnings.

“When you look at the population of Kenya, for instance, we have an average of about 53 million and in 2022 we hosted 1.48 million tourists. In Tanzania as well, the country boasts a population of 64 million and received around 1.4 million visitor arrivals in a similar period. We should work towards improving these numbers to ensure that our citizens fully benefit from the tourism sector. As a region we need to invest additional resources towards regional tourism promotion,” Mutua remarked.

The joint expo has drawn 266 exhibitors and 109 buyers from at least 31 countries

Kenya's tourism ministry will be coordinating the regional states in charting ways to collaborate with each other to harness strengths and develop circuits that would ease travel and interactions across the diverse cultures of East Africa.

“The EARTE expo is a platform to drive conversations on how best we can work together as a joint marketing unit to realize our tourism growth goals within the region. Our neighbours: Tanzania, and Burundi have previously hosted the EARTE Expo, and now it is Kenya's turn to showcase its potential as a tourism and investment destination," added Mutua.

Mutua said the issue of comfort is critical to ensure the improvement of tourism numbers.

“Today’s traveller requires comfort, from how they travel to where they stay, the treatment they receive and convenience. I have directed that all tourism areas including parks and reserves should have social amenities such as toilets to ensure we don’t inconvenience travellers. I have also directed that hotels and loges should have critical medical equipment such as defibrillators to give satisfaction to visitors," he stated. 

Speaking at the event, the deputy secretary general in charge if customs, trade and monetary affairs at the East African Community Annette Mutaawe Ssemuwemba said the region has what it takes to be a premier tourist destination. 

"To leverage the attractions we have, we need to work together through various initiatives, such as joint tourism promotion. The EARTE annual tourism expo is among the key initiatives that we have embarked on as part of implementing the Regional Tourism Marketing Strategy 2021- 2025 aimed at increasing visitor arrivals to pre-pandemic levels of 7.2 million by end of 2024,” said Mutaawe.

It is the first time Kenya is hosting the EARTE travel fair which is being held in conjunction with the 13th edition of the Magical Kenya Travel Expo (MKTE) under the theme ‘Tourism for Green Growth.”

Magical Kenya Travel Expo (MKTE) is Kenya’s annual flagship travel trade fair that brings together tourism stakeholders, partners and media from some of Kenya’s key source markets in Europe, Africa, Asia, and the Americas.

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