The East African Community (EAC) on Wednesday, November 24, launched a new regional tourism media campaign as part of the plans to implement the six-member bloc’s tourism recovery plan. Speaking at the launch at the EAC Headquarters in Arusha, Tanzania, EAC Secretary General, Peter Mathuki, noted that the new campaign is supported by GIZ following a request by the Secretariat to support Covid-19 recovery initiatives. The new tourism media campaign is harmonised with a similar campaign recently initiated by the East African Tourism Platform (EATP) to ensure synergies and avoid duplication. “The campaign continues using the theme under ‘Tembea Nyumbani’ which was developed under the EATP campaign while awaiting a comprehensive branding of EAC as a tourism destination in line with the approved EAC Tourism Marketing Strategy, to avoid giving conflicting messages,” Mathuki said. “The campaign will start on December 1, and run for three weeks. About two months ago, we launched a series of tourism expos and we shall be doing this on a rotational basis. Next year we hope to be in Burundi and the other year, in Rwanda.” Yves Ngenzi, the EATP Coordinator, who followed the launch online told The New Times that the campaign dubbed Tembea Nyumbani they launched in September has so far raised an increased in interest to travel within the region. He said: “Over two million were reached through digital and media marketing campaigns and 32 multi-destination packages uploaded on the portal. Over 600 registered interests for package booking 27 lead conversions through the online portal with an estimated value of $45,000. “We are hopeful that the new partnerships with EAC and GIZ will contribute to the revival of the tourism industry, which is a lifeline for millions of people.” The region lost considerable tourism revenue due to the pandemic, Mathuki noted, and revival now “calls for collective responsibility to tell the whole world that we are ready to receive you.” Mathuki said: “This is a deliberate effort to promote tourism in our region.” Jean-Baptiste Havugimana, Director of Productive Sector at the EAC Secretariat, said the main objectives of the campaign include creating awareness on the domestic and regional tourism products and related services among the East Africans and stimulating intra-regional travel. It also aims to initiate and “facilitate a conversation about the value of tourism between the citizens, service providers and policymakers; and make East Africans tourism ambassadors who travel in their country and around the region and promote domestic and regional tourism across the region.” To achieve its objectives, the campaign will blend all aspects of media communication such as television, radio, newspaper and social media, and the communication materials will include photographs, videos and articles. It will ensure that all messaging and communications strategies are consistent and centred on the target audience. Havugimana said the main focus of the campaign will be to target festive season vacations in key coastal and inland resort destinations, wildlife safaris to popular destinations “aimed at boosting bed occupancy”, as well as discovery of less visited parks across East Africa, and adventure in own country or across the borders such as mountain climbing, hiking, youth camps, and road trips. Tourism Projections Simon Kiarie, the principal EAC Tourism officer, said: “EAC projects that with aggressive tourism efforts both at the regional and national levels, the region will be able to receive about four million tourists in 2022. Further, it is projected that the tourism sector will have full recovery by the year 2024, that is, about seven million compared to 2.25 million tourists recorded in 2020.” He noted that the Council of Ministers directed that EAC citizens visiting public tourist attractions sites in all the Partner States such as national parks and reserves be charged local rates as opposed to foreign tourist rates. “This was aimed at promoting intra-regional tourism in EAC. The directive has been adhered to by all Partner States.” Affordable packages Kiarie said the tourist accommodation sector in the region has also been urged to offer EAC citizens, resident rates in their facilities. “This has been widely adopted by accommodation establishments in the region whereby they recognize EAC citizens as locals.” Members of the East African Legislative Assemblys Committee on Agriculture, Tourism, and Natural Resources on October 26, agreed that it makes sense to have affordable promotional tourism packages so as to revive the industry after the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic.