NAIROBI, Kenya, Aug 22 – Stakeholders in the Tourism Industry from Comesa countries are gathered in Nairobi in the first forum ever to look into the best development approach of the tourism sector in the region.
One of the main agenda will be to discuss – how to push their various governments to have a single travel visa within the region.
Speaking while opening the forum, Tourism Minister Danson Mwazo – said despite the region having most of the best tourist destinations, citizens from the region still have difficulties in visiting these countries and prefer going to other countries outside the region.
“One of the things we are going to agree among the stakeholders in the Comesa region is to have borderless movement, so that both domestic and even international tourists can move freely from one country to the other,” -said Mwazo.
He added that the stakeholders are also planning to come with strategies of marketing Comesa countries as a region and improve its image which he said has been spoilt over time by the media.
“We have realised that it is a high time we package and present ourselves in a positive way, than what the western media portray Africa. We have always been seen as a war people, struggling with hunger and many other negative issues, yet we have so much to offer in terms of tourism attraction,” -the minister said.
There are also plans to pass a resolution on funds allocations whereby they will push their governments to set 5 percent of the budgets to the tourism sector.
He laments that up to now, several countries are still getting zero funding from the government to develop the sector.
“We are planning to make this recommendation to the policy makers or legislatures, because tourism in purely marketing,” he said.
The public-private dialogue, which is being held under the theme “Shaping the Future of Tourism in Comesa”, brings together over 70 regional participants from tourism boards, investment promotion agencies, tourism businesses and development partners.
The meeting is being hosted by the Comesa -Secretariat in cooperation with Kenya’s Ministry of Tourism. It has been organized through the support of the Comesa Business Council in partnership with the Kenya Investment Authority and the Kenya Tourism Board.
According to the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC), Africa receives 4.8 percent of all tourist arrivals in the world.
The 19 member-states region has a population of 430 Million people.