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East Africa Tourism: Joint Regional Marketing in Dilemma

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Around 2014, Uganda, Rwanda and Kenya-the 3 (three) East African Community member states introduced what is called a single tourist visa which offers visitors a chance to visit the 3 East African Community states. This was after harmonizing the fees and it is from this that the three states also came into agreement to market the region as one tourist destination. However, 4 years down the road, the region is still committed to this venture or every member state is working on its own.

Tanzania on the other hand objected the protocol to market the region as a single tourist destination. However, Tanzania pushed for changes in the East African Community draft of tourism and wildlife protocol that requires member states to market the regional bloc as a collective single tourist destination. The tourism and wildlife protocol ratified 7 (seven) years back wasn’t implemented after Tanzania kept pushing or changes to allow every state market its own tourist products especially wildlife and other tourist attractions including physical features like mountains such as Mount Kilimanjaro.

Under a hot debated objections, a panel of the East African Community Tourism Minister who gathered in the northern Tanzania tourist city of Arusha had come into mutual understanding to amend the protocol in favor of Tanzania and Burundi that pushed for changes. Kenya, Rwanda and Uganda kept their positions never to make any changes in the protocol or wildlife and tourism charter ratified by the council of Ministers 7 years back though remained dormant after Tanzania on the other hand kept its position to market its main attractions on their own banner.

Tanzania had rejected the implementation of the protocol draft chapter which require each partner state to market the East African Community bloc as one tourist destination prior the international tourist markets especially the United States, Australia, Southeast Asia, Europe where most visitors always sourced from. The Tanzanian minister for natural resources and tourism kept the country’s position and added that every partner state should retain its identity when marketing its attractions and services it offers.

The 8th sector ministerial meeting was conducted in Arusha sometime back and attracted minister of tourism, wildlife and antiquities from Uganda and other representatives from Rwanda, Burundi and Kenya. In Tanzania, it looks forward to safeguarding its own attractions by virtue of prominence and size. It is noted that about 32% of the entire land in Tanzania is conserved for wildlife compared to only seven percent in Kenya.

Approximately 300,000 square kilometers from the 945,000 square kilometers or the total area of Tanzania was designated for conservation of wildlife and nature and this include forests and wetlands. Tanzania has about 16 national parks and they cover about 50000 square kilometers of its land whereas Selous game reserve covers about 54000 square kilometers. The other area covers 300,000 square kilometers and mainly feature game reserves as well as open wildlife areas and forests. In Uganda, there are 10 national parks and many also found in the magical Kenya, each of which offer unique wildlife and travel experiences.

The 115(1-3) and 116 of the East African Community treaty states that the bloc can formulate policies, strategies and many other ways to promote tourism while every state remains the key custodian and administrator of all wildlife and safari activities within its borders.

Both Kenya and Tanzania are amazing destinations for wildlife safaris in East Africa. The popular attractions in Tanzania include Mount Kilimanjaro as well as Serengeti and Ngorongoro National Park while Kenya has some of the best places for game viewing including Masai Mara and Amboseli National Park. In Rwanda and Uganda, the rare mountain gorillas are the star attraction of both countries. . These are the major attractions and a reason many tourists flock to East African region. About 30-40% of the 1.3 million tourists that visit Tanzania every year don’t leave without passing via the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA) in Nairobi prior crossing to national parks in Tanzania.

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