A new platform to promote tourism in the east African region was on June 25 launched in Kigali, Rwanda.
The platform was launched at Kigali Serena hotels, by Rica Rwigamba, the Head of Tourism and Conservation at Rwanda Development Board (RDB) in conjunction with other key partners in the tourism industry.
The East African Platform, covers all the five tourism boards of the EAC member states, and aims to connect Rwanda, Kenya, Burundi, Uganda and Tanzania, in order to promote stronger and more consistent tourism practices.
The platform is a joint effort by private sector organizations from different East African countries. In its first two years it will be mainly funded by Trademark East Africa, a multi-donor funded agency that supports regional integration of the EAC.
Mark Priestly, Country Director of the donor agency, attended the launch and identified some of the major challenges the platform will tackle especially the eventual creation of a single tourism visa for all five member states of the EAC and the development of consistent standards across regions in touristic places like hotels, bars and restaurants; among others.
Priestly said the platform is a great tool to get the private sector to communicate with each other and to support advocacy around these kinds of issues and was hopeful of good results to the effect.
The Head of Rwanda’s Tourism and Conservation, Rica Rwigamba said the government is pleased to have the private sector pushing development of regional tourism integration, are seeing visible complementation rather than competing amongst each other.
The Chairman of the East African Platform, Richard Rugimbana explained the key objectives of the initiative are to reduce obstacles in the intra and inter-regional tourism sector, promote tourism marketing, encourage continued skill development, establish standards and a code of conduct, and provide data and information for private sector players.
While the Rwanda’s chairman of Tourism Chamber, Edwin Sabuhoro, highlighted the importance of regional integration for the EAC and stated that the partnership with other member states will bring on board shared experiences, history, and share common practices- which will lead to attaining the same goal in the future.