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The East African : Nov 17th 2014
The EastAfrican BUSINESS NOVEMBER 15-21,2014 TOURISM RECOVERY PLAN Ebola, terrorism fears take toll on EA tourism But tou≥ ope≥ato≥s a≥e optimistic as EAC conducts an agg≥essive ma≥keting campaign ab≥oad By ISAAC KHISA The EastAfrican Ebola outbreak in West Africa, even though the two regions are thousands of kilometres apart. Netherlands-based travel E firm SafariBookings.com carried out a study in August that found that half of the 500 safari tour operators surveyed on the continent were receiving fewer bookings due to fears of Ebola, with the impact being felt more in East Africa than in Southern Africa. Only a third of the agents re- ported business as usual. The report reveals that tour- ists abroad view Africa as a single country, and do not realise that East and Southern Africa, which receive the majority of tourists, are just as far from the outbreak area as Europe or South America. Tourist arrivals in East Africa, especially Kenya and Uganda, have nosedived in the past two years due to travel advisories issued by the Western countries over terrorism threats and now Ebola. Struck out law In Uganda, the passing of the nullified anti-homosexuality law also affected the sector. But Uganda’s Constitutional Court struck out the law in August, six months after President Yoweri Museveni signed it, on the grounds that parliament had passed it without quorum. “Any concerns about con- tracting Ebola on safari reflect the widespread misconception that Africa is one homogenous country… the current outbreak ast Africa’s tourism sector has been hit hard by the is largely confined to a region that is closer to Europe than it is to most of the popular safari destinations,” said Philip Briggs, a member of the Safari Bookings Panel of Experts. “Furthermore, the disease can be contracted only through direct contact with the bodily fluids of an infected person. Statistically, this means that the chances of contracting Ebola on safari are effectively zero.” Tour operators say the man- ner in which Western media are covering Ebola has scared potential safari-goers to East and Southern Africa, although the outbreak is in Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone. Ebola is not airborne Since the outbreak of the deadly virus in March, nearly 5,000 people out of about 14,000 infected have died, most of them in Liberia, according to the World Health Organisation. East Africa has not been af- fected by the disease, and leading health agencies such as WHO and the US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention have reiterated that Ebola is not airborne. But such messages have fallen on deaf ears, and thousands of leisure and business travellers who were planning or considering travel to Africa have postponed or cancelled. In Uganda, tourism-relat- ed agencies say arrivals have dropped. Kenya has seen tourist arrivals through its two main airports, Jomo Kenyatta and Moi, drop 13.6 per cent in the first half of the year, to 428,223, as foreigners shunned the country citing fears of terror attacks orchestrated by the Somali mili- ARRIVALS Uganda’s tourist arrivals increased from 1.196 million in 2012 to 1.206 last year, earning the country over $2.1 billion while Rwanda’s arrivals increased 15 per cent to 1.18 million last year, earning the country $294 million. Tanzania’s tourist arrivals in 2013 were 1.095 million, generating $1.85 billion, according to the latest data from the Tanzania Tourism Board. Arrivals in Kenya declined from 1.23 million in 2012 to 1.09 million last year, due to travel advisories by the US and some European countries. This resulted in a 2.1 per cent fall in tourism earnings to $1.04 billion. months, following aggressive marketing campaigns in the region and farther abroad. Derick Waiswa, managing director of Kuamka Tours and Travel, said whereas tourist arrivals have dropped in Uganda, there are signs of recovery, thanks to the marketing of the region’s tourist destinations globally. Joint marketing “We are hopeful that the situ- ation will change and business will improve, now that we are jointly marketing our region’s tourism,” Mr Waiswa said. Uganda, Kenya and Rwanda A group of tourists arrives in Kenya. Kenyan and Tanzanian hotels have reported a drop in business due to Ebola and terror fears. Picture: File tant group Al Shabaab. A WHO warning in August that Kenya was a “high-risk” country for Ebola saw Korean Air, which had three flights a week to Nairobi, suspend flights indefinitely. The country’s Indian Ocean beaches have been deserted and high-end safari operators report sluggish business. Reports say that Kenyan and Tanzanian hotels have reported a 20 per cent and 30 per cent drop in business respectively, while 2015 bookings have plummeted 50 per cent. But tour operators in the re- gion are hopeful that the situation will improve in the coming are marketing the region’s tourist destinations jointly, following the introduction of a single tourist visa in February. Kelly MacTavish-Mungar, executive director at Pearl of Africa Tours, said the sector is showing signs of recovery across the region, and some tourists are willing to visit starting January 2015. Washington in assu≥ances on Agoa afte≥ Republican poll win $26.8b By JEFF OTIENO The EastAfrican THE US government has said that the outcome of the recent mid-term elections will not affect efforts to renew a trade programme that gives African exports duty-free access to the US. There has been concern that a Republican-controlled Congress might delay the renewal of the Africa Growth and Opportunity Act (Agoa), which expires in September 2015. “There is bipartisan support in Congress to renew Agoa, so there is still time to work on its renewal,” said Catherine Novelli, Under Secretary for Economic Growth, Energy and Environment, on a recent visit to Kenya. The Republicans swept to power in the US Senate in the recent midterm elections that were dominated by criticism of Barack Obama’s presidency. Some African countries had feared that a Republican dominated Congress would frustrate President Obama’s efforts to renew Agoa, from which many African countries, including the EAC member states, have benefited through foreign exchange earnings and job creation. Agoa, enacted in 2000, allows about 7,000 products from subSaharan Africa duty-free access to the US market. The pact covers nearly 40 African countries. “Agoa also encourages regional integration, so we have to work collectively to ensure that it succeeds,” Ms Novelli said. On wildlife conservation, Ms The value of trade between the US and sub-Saharan Africa under Agoa and other trade agreements According to the Office of the United States Representative, exports from sub-Saharan Africa to the US under Agoa and other trade pacts totalled $26.8 billion last year. Most of the exports were petroleum products. Novelli said Washington has so far donated $60 million to various African governments to strengthen capacity to combat the illegal wildlife trade. She said the Obama administration will give an additional $15 million for training and capacity development in some African countries, among them Kenya and Tanzania. “We will be focusing on three areas: Stopping poachers from killing wildlife; preventing transportation of wildlife materials from source areas; and dealing with demand for such products,” she said. The US official had attended a two-day regional summit on 43 wildlife conservation in Tanzania, which discussed wildlife crimes, migratory wildlife and shared ecosystems. East African Community Secretary-General Richard Sezibera said the tourism sector is threatened by poaching, illegal wildlife trafficking, deforestation, climate change and global economic meltdown. Ms Novelli said the US will offer technical assistance to African governments to effectively deal with increasingly sophisticated poaching networks operating on the continent. The US, she added, will work with Beijing to tackle the demand side, as China is a leading market for illegal wildlife products.
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