East African Community member states are set to create more than a million jobs in the tourism sector in the next eight years, new data indicates.
The five member states are projected to create 1,086,000 jobs in the industry by 2021, absorbing jobless youths, a new World Bank report shows.
The report — Tourism in Africa: Harnessing Tourism for Growth and Improved Livelihoods — says that tourism accounted directly or indirectly for one in every 20 jobs in sub-Saharan Africa in 2011.
Kenya and Tanzania reportedly offer the highest direct employment in tourism in East Africa, rivalled only by South Africa in Africa.
“For African countries looking to sustain and increase growth, tourism can be harnessed through joint public and private sector efforts to achieve growth, wealth creation and shared prosperity,” said Gaiv Tata, director of financial and private sector development for the World Bank in Africa, whose department prepared the study.
Tanzania’s tourism industry, the World Bank said, will have the highest number of employees in the region, to reach 463,900 from 432,100, with Kenya following at 272,500 employees, up from 247,300 in 2011; Uganda will employ 251,100, up from 202,100. Rwanda will increase the number of its employees from 54,200 to 62,500 and Burundi at 36,000 from 31,100 over the same period.
The five countries have the capacity for success in tourism success through establishing strong political support for developing the industry collectively, and attracting increased private investment to finance it.
Already, the EAC member states have simplified their tourism policies, liberalised air transport and diversified tourism while protecting their communities and environments, measures that have created a positive investment climate for tourism development.
By 2014, it is planned that tourists will need only a single entry tourist visa to access Kenya, Uganda and Rwanda.
Marketing is essential if the region is to attract more tourists, investors say. According to Amos Wekesa, the owner of Great Lakes Safaris Ltd and Uganda Lodges Ltd, Uganda has failed to allocate enough money to marketing itself as a tourism destination.
The amount of money allocated to the Uganda Tourism Board — the body charged with marketing and branding Uganda — in the current financial year, was slashed to Ush1.4 billion ($550447) from Ush1.8 billion ($708,103) in the 2012/13 financial year.
Kenya invests more than $23 million annually in marketing. As a result, Kenya, with 29 national parks and game reserves, receives more than 2.4 million visitors per year, compared with Uganda’s 1.2 million tourists in 23 national parks and game reserves.
The Tanzanian government said it will set aside funds for tourism advertising and marketing in Europe, the US, and Asia, but will not target China, Russia, Brazil, and the Far East. The country has created a marketing plan aimed at drawing more tourists to its wildlife and other destinations. Tourist arrivals into the country increased from 867,994 in 2011, to 1,077, 058 in 2012, a 24 per cent rise.
Ugandan tourism officials say they plan to invest more in accommodation, infrastructure and human resources to better compete locally and internationally.
“We don’t have enough accommodation facilities upcountry and we also need to improve the roads to our national parks,” said Patrick Mugoya, the Permanent Secretary in Uganda’s Ministry of Tourism, Wildlife and Antiquities. Tourists contributed $1.93 billion to the country’s economy last year.
Rica Rwigamba, head of tourism and conservation at the Rwanda Development Board, said the country hopes to see continued growth in the sector, thanks to new hotels being set up and positive projections.
“We are working hand-in-hand with the Chamber of Tourism to improve customer service and resolve the skills gap that seems to be a hindrance to better service delivery,” she said.
Additional reporting by Dicta Asiimwe