The curtains came down on the 3rd East African Region Tourism Expo and the 13th Magical Kenya Travel Expo in Nairobi with a rallying call on regional countries to eschew unhelpful rivalries and work collectively in marketing the region.
Tourism and Wildlife Cabinet secretary, Dr. Alfred Mutua, told participants that the region must change tact for it to start attracting the number of tourists commensurate with what it has to offer.
“By combining our resources for marketing and promotion, selling the region as a single destination and turning challenges into opportunities, we can triple our tourism numbers and earnings through the multiplier effect,” Dr Mutua told the delegates.
Dr.Mutua emphasized on the pivotal role Africa plays in the global tourism landscape. He spoke about the untapped potential of the continent and the need for collective efforts to attract more tourists.
The CS proposed a multifaceted approach which includes the need to identify and map out all of the region’s tourist attraction sites, brand and package them, and develop tourists’ circuits that start from the first country to the last one.
“We must also develop and invest in tourism infrastructure including transportation, accommodation, roads, airports and amenities to improve accessibility and comfort for tourists”, said the CS.
Highlighting a visionary stance, Dr. Mutua proposed the adoption of a free visa regime for African countries. He passionately argued that removing barriers to travel within the continent would not only enhance cultural exchange but also stimulate economic growth by fostering tourism.
“We should fast-track the process of a borderless region and also simplify visa processes and regulations to encourage more visitors. By streamlining visa applications and offering visa -on-arrival or e-visa options, we can enhance the ease of travel for tourists to our region,” he said.
The CS emphasized the promotion of sustainable tourism practices, and leveraging technology to enhance the overall visitor experience which must include tourists safety through effective security measures and clear communication of safety guidelines.
The event marked a turning point for regional tourism with Dr. Alfred Mutua’s words echoing as a catalyst for change. The seeds of a collaborative effort to unlock Africa’s tourism potential were sown, and the journey towards a visa-free continent began, promising a brighter future for the tourism industry across the region and Africa as a whole.
Present during the closing ceremony was South Sudan minister for Tourism and Wildlife, Lt. Gen. Rizik Zakaria, and South Africa’s Deputy Minister for Tourism, Amos Fish.
The event attracted 110 hosted buyers from 33 countries. There were 470 trade visitors to the event.