Six member states of the East African Community (EAC), a regional bloc, lost 92 percent revenues in the tourism sector due to the COVID-19 pandemic, said Peter Mathuki, the EAC secretary-general.
Mathuki said in a statement issued Saturday night that tourist arrivals to the region fell from 6.98 million before the pandemic to 2.25 million at present, causing the losses, adding that the tourism sector was the worst hit by the pandemic.
“The region is now open again for business,” said Mathuki, urging EAC member states governments and other stakeholders to work together to market the region’s tourist attractions and products as part of efforts to ensure speedy recovery for the sector. The EAC groups Burundi, Kenya, Rwanda, Tanzania, South Sudan and Uganda.
“Despite the fact that the pandemic has reversed the gains that we had made in the tourism sector, we are quite confident that through collective and collaborative efforts, we should be able to bounce back to pre-pandemic levels of performance and even do better within a span of less than five years,” Mathuki told the first East African regional tourism expo in Tanzania’s northern city of Arusha, also the headquarters of the EAC.
He said that the region had drawn a number of important lessons from the pandemic especially in relation to the economic sectors that were hard hit.
“One lesson that stands out and resonates with most destinations around the world is the need to entrench resilience in the tourism sector,” said Mathuki, adding that the EAC will take a number of steps to enhance recovery in the sector.