EA Tourism players narrow down on competitive pricing to hasten growth
Tourism players in the East Africa region have committed to bring down the cost of tourism products within the region in a bid to increase its attractiveness domestically and internationally.
The players are set to commission a price competitiveness survey whose main aim will be to ensure uniformity of prices across the five countries.
East Africa Tourism Platform Regional Coordinator Carmen Nibigira says the survey will be conducted in partnership with source markets and tourism boards with the key objective of streamlining taxes, prices, air fares with a view of making East Africa a more affordable and attractive destination.
“The exercise will involve studying each partner state and region’s price competitiveness with regard to taxes, levies and charges so as to inform regional and National policy reforms,” said Ms Nibigira.
Speaking on the sidelines of the just concluded Magical Kenya Trade exhibition, Nibigira said the survey will inform how the five countries namely Kenya, Uganda, Kigali, Tanzania and Burundi how to develop, design and price products that are relevant to the domestic and regional market while accelerating consumption of the same.
“We as EATP are lobbying on behalf of private sector on the issue of high cost of domestic and regional air travel, open sky policies and the free movement of tourism vehicles and services as we continue to foster discussion around these issues,” she said.
EATP, which comprises of private sector tourism umbrella bodies of the East African Community countries and tour operators, had its members convene at the Magical Kenya Trade Fair for a joint steering committee where they discussed opportunities and challenges and achievements in the region’s tourism sector.
So far under the Northern Corridor Joint Marketing Initiative, some airfares within the region have dropped by over 50 percent as a result of bilateral agreements signed between member countries and more continue to be signed.
Mike Macharia a member of the Northern Corridor Joint Marketing committee said the East Africa tourism private sector continues to lobby for further concessions in making the destination more affordable and attractive including the launch of one destination web portal, the Single Tourist Visa and addressing the issue of seasonality to ensure sustainable tourism.
“A flight from Nairobi to Kigali on Rwanda Air was costing $700 and now it is $300.That is a $ 400 cut .We are looking forward to regional airlines signing such more agreements that will make air travel attractive and affordable within this region therefore spurring increased movement ,” Mr. Macharia noted.
Meanwhile the East Africa Tourism players are calling for a political solution for the on-going political crisis in Burundi.
EATP Chairman/Rwanda Representative Manzi Kayihura noted that the negative effects of the ongoing crisis are being suffered by all member countries and not Burundi only.
Anne-Lyse Bizindavyi EATP Steering Committee Member/ Burundi Representative reiterated that Tourism is the second biggest contributor to the Burundi economy after agriculture at 12 percent and requires the support of its counterparts in the region to sustain.
“We as the private sector are doing our very best to keep business going on as usual but we really need the support of our counterparts and their political leaders to help resolve this issue, ”Ms Bizindavyi noted.
This year Magical Kenya Travel Expo that was selected by Kenya under the Northern corridor projects as one of the Key pillars to cross sell East Africa took place in Diani. Other flagship Tourism Projects within the region includes Kwita Izina for Rwanda and Uganda Martyrs Day.
This year’s trade expo saw 176 hosted buyers from the 5 countries participate in the trade fair up from 135 participants last year.
Tanzania and Burundi are yet to formerly join the Northern corridor initiative although all indications are that this will happen sooner than later considering private sector efforts to see this become reality.