The East African Community tourism and hospitality industry was devastatingly affected due to the Covid-19 pandemic in 2020 as a result of massive reductions in international tourist arrivals, receipts, jobs, visitors to parks and hotel occupancy rates.
A study by the East African Business Council (EABC) with the support of the African Economic Research Consortium (AERC) and Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation on Thursday disclosed estimates that EAC Partner States may have lost international tourism receipts to the tune of USD 4.8 Billion in the year 2020.
It also estimates that about 4.2 Million foreign tourists were not able to travel to their preferred EAC destinations.
“In terms of impact on employment, it is estimated that tourism jobs in the region dropped from about 4.1 million jobs to 2.2 million jobs, that is, about 2 million jobs in the tourism sector were lost,” the report reads.
It adds that visitors to national parks declined significantly by about 65% impacting negatively to wildlife conservation efforts in the region.
Hotels in the region registered average occupancy rates of below 30% affecting their operations significantly including maintaining staff.
According to the EAC Secretariat, tourist arrivals in the EAC region increased from 3.5 million persons in 2006 to about 7 million in 2019.
Tourism contributed to the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of the EAC Partner States by an average of 9.5% in 2019.
The percentage contribution was higher than the average in Tanzania (17.1 %), Rwanda (10.0%) and Kenya (9.7%) while lower than average in Uganda (5.6%) and Burundi (5.1%).
Tourism contributes an average of 17.2% to EAC total exports, although the percentage contribution was higher in Tanzania (26%), Rwanda (21.0%) and Kenya (18.1%).
On the other hand, the total contributions of tourism to export earnings were 16.6% for Uganda and 4.1% for Burundi.
“Adopting an EACcoordinated approach in reviving the tourism sector by marketing the region as a single tourist destination, opening EAC skies, rolling out national-wide vaccination drives and mutual recognition of Covid-19 test certificates in the region is certainly critical,” said East African Business Council vice chair Dennis Karera vice-chairman.
Source: East African Business Council