- The tourism sector contributes an average 9.5 per cent of the East Africa region's GDP and average 7.1 per cent of employment opportunities in the EAC.
- This year’s regional expo seeks to lure at least 250 buyers into the regions' tourism sector by leveraging the untapped opportunity in sports and medical tourism.
Kenya Tourism Federation has asked the government to incorporate the provision of paying park entry fees as a corporate under the e-citizen, to enhance seamless operations by travel agents.
Speaking on Wednesday during the launch of the 2023 Magical Kenya and East Africa regional tourism expo, KTF chairman Fred Odek said the recent directive by the government to have all payments done under the e-citizen, is not business-friendly for the private cooperates operating as travel agents.
“The companies often operate as cooperates and the payment platform does not support the cooperate pay model, it only operates on the individual trade format,” Odek said.
On August 21, the Kenya Wildlife Service announced that Kenyans will be required to pay for their services through the e-citizen platform.
This was after President William Ruto’s order that all government services be made through the platform.
The move left hundreds of tourists visiting various national parks stranded as they were barred from entering the areas unless they paid through the platform.
It works in a way that payments can be made in advance or at the gate by an individual registered under e-Citizen.
The plea comes amid efforts to boost tourism numbers in the country through the forthcoming 3rd edition of the East African Regional Tourism Expo (EARTE) and the Magical Kenya Travel Expo (MKTE).
Slated for November 20-23 this year in Nairobi, the expo seeks to lure at least 250 buyers across the globe into the region’s tourism sector.
Speaking during the launch, Tourism CS Peninah Malonza said there are about 160 buyers who are lured into the country by the MKTE every year.
This is from Europe specifically.
“Through this year’s edition, we want to add more numbers by leveraging the untapped opportunity in sports and medical tourism,” Malonza said.
She added that the tourism sector continues to play a key role as an enabler for the regional economies, thus the forum will be a perfect platform for creating opportunities for building inclusive growth and employment.
“The sessions will allow us to keep industry stakeholders informed on progress made towards industry growth and the new strategies, programs and partnerships available in the market.”
Also speaking during the launch, East Africa Community PS Abdi Dubat emphasized the importance of the forum towards the sector, which is crucial for the region’s economic development prospects.
“The tourism sector contributes an average 9.5 per cent of the East Africa region's GDP and an average 7.1 per cent of employment opportunities in the region, translating to over four million jobs,” Dubat said.
He added that the region is ready to share and promote quality tourism to the world as there now exists greater potential for intra-Africa tourism.
On his part, tourism PS John Ololtuaa said the hosting of the two expos is a genuine manifestation of the commitment to promote intra-regional tourism flow across the EAC borders.
“The platform will seek to provide opportunities for consolidation of relations among our partners across Africa, Europe and beyond. These relations will go a long way towards increasing tourism receipts from key and emerging source markets,” Ololtuaa said.