Enhancing tourism competitiveness can accelerate growth in Eastern Africa, ECA
Tourism is now emerging as a dynamic sector for economic growth and development in Eastern Africa. Experts gathering for the ECA meeting on catalysts and constraints to transformative growth highlighted the increasing importance of the sector in the economies of the region.
The tourism sector is estimated to provide more than 6 million jobs. However, given the immense opportunity that the region harbours, the sector’s full potential is far from being realised. Furthermore, Africa’s share of the global tourism industry remains small. Indeed, the continent’s share has been shrinking over the past decade, from 4.8 % of global arrivals and receipts in 2006 down to 3.3% in 2016. The session of the 21st Intergovernmental Committee of Experts (ICE) focused on how to enhance tourism competitiveness in the region.
Geoffrey Manyara, an ECA specialist on tourism, described the main obstacles to the sector’s development, including sub-optimal institutional frameworks, inadequate funding for tourism development, weak private sectors, disenfranchised local communities, inadequate infrastructure, a lack of appropriate marketing strategies, and a failure to harness the potential of regional integration.
Acknowledging these challenges, a number of countries have made progress in certain areas, such as visa facilitation in the case of Uganda, and increasing the availability of skilled workers in Kenya.
“There is much to be done if Member States are to realise their respective aspirations for tourism development”, added Manyara. Towards this end, there is need for a paradigm shift, from the conventional approach towards tourism development to one that is better in line with changing global tourism trends.