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East African legislative assembly members to conduct tourism survey

Wolfgang H. Thome, eTN  Mar 03, 2011

(eTN) - Information was received overnight that members of the East African Legislative Assembly (EALA) will begin a region-wide assessment and survey of the tourism sector to get first-hand feedback of how the East African Community's (EAC) programs towards tourism and wildlife management are being received, implemented, and effective.

The first destination will be Bujumbura, followed by Kigali and Kampala, before then targeting the EAC home turf of Arusha and visiting Zanzibar. No details are yet available when Mombasa and Nairobi tourism stakeholders will be consulted.

Bujumbura, the capital of Burundi, is arguably the least visible tourism destination in the region, and while the country does have national parks and lake shores, it has ostensibly done little if anything of substance to integrate into and copy the East African Community member states’ strong tourism sectors.

Habitually inquiries not answered, the country still is overwhelmingly francophone, which hampers communications with other member states’ tourism sectors – unlike Rwanda, which has made English the first language of trade, business, and even THE medium in education, signaling a total transformation as part of the "Phoenix from the ashes" rise since 1994 – making cooperation more difficult. The lack of available materials both printed and on the web are an added factor why Burundi is overlooked when planning tourist itineraries covering more than one country in the region.

EALA will, therefore, likely find the most need in Bujumbura of transforming Burundi’s tourism potential into a major economic force, while the subsequent visit to Kigali will undoubtedly show them that the EAC membership of Rwanda is working very well and that tourism, like in Kenya for instance, has become an economic powerhouse, here in particular also enjoying the full backing of Rwanda’s government, by both word and deed.

The final visit of this tour will take EALA members to Kampala, where notably only the other day a statement from a senior tourism stakeholder claimed that Uganda should first look after herself before joining EAC initiatives like "One Region with Many Attractions," a clear sign that EALA will need to be persuasive in their arguments when meeting tourism stakeholders to show them that unity offers the local tourism industry better options in the global market place than "going it alone." Here at home it is, however, undisputed that the pathetic funding of the Uganda Tourist Board is a major cause for its limited ability to "work the world" and carry out generic marketing of the country.

While a greater budget has been set aside during the current financial year 2010/11 compared to past years, it is also a sad fact that the financial limitations of the Ministry of Finance has affected the actual money transfers to the Ministry of Tourism, Trade, and Industry substantially, leaving the Uganda Tourist Board (UTB), aka Tourism Uganda, again in the financial cold to the detriment of the sector and preventing tourism to exploit its full potential.

East African legislative assembly members to conduct tourism survey
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