East Africa promotes regional, China tourism to reduce over-reliance on US, Europe
In their post-Covid recovery plans, East African countries are promoting niche products, such as cruise, adventure, culture and sports tourism, in emerging tourist markets such as China, in a strategy expected to spur growth in the sector.
To reduce over-reliance on traditional source markets in Europe and the United States, East African countries are shifting focus to promote regional tourism and from other markets, such as in Asia. The economic crisis and travel restrictions during the Covid-19 pandemic lockdowns in 2020 brought the tourism sector in East Africa to its knees, with massive job losses. For example, in Kenya, new data from the Ministry of Tourism shows that Uganda has now become the top source of African tourists, even overtaking European and Asian markets, followed by Tanzania, Rwanda, Somalia and South Sudan. But, globally, the US still remained Kenya’s biggest tourist market.
Of the 1.48 million tourists who visited Kenya in 2022, 43% were from Africa, and the East African country is seeking to increase this number. “Kenya is one of the countries piloting for the Single Africa Air Transport Market, and it will be a big boost to our efforts towards this focus,” says Cabinet Secretary for Tourism, Wildlife and Heritage, Peninah Malonza. In October 2022, Kenya and Uganda signed an agreement to promote regional tourism by jointly promoting beaches and parks in the region. As part of the agreement, the two countries resolved to promote beaches and different tourism products on the Kenyan coast and adventure tourism in Uganda as one package.
Meanwhile, the Tanzanian government is eyeing China, aiming to attract the Chinese to visit its historical sites and the wildlife parks. The Tanzania Tourist Board expects 45,000 tourists from China this year. Tanzania is among eight African countries which have been approved by the China National Tourism Administration in Beijing for Chinese tourists. Others are Kenya, Seychelles, Zimbabwe, Tunisia, Ethiopia, Mauritius, and Zambia. To achieve these objectives, Tanzania is currently negotiating an aviation agreement with China for Air Tanzania Company Limited to operate direct flights between Dar es Salaam and Guangzhou.