The East African Legislative Assembly (EALA) yesterday passed the tourism and wildlife management bill which will see the establishment of a Joint Tourism Board for the region.
It was a private member’s bill presented by MP Safina Kwekwe (Kenya) during the third meeting of the third session of the second East African Legislative Assembly currently taking place in Kampala, Uganda.
In an interview with The New Times yesterday, Kwekwe said that the bill aims at introducing coordinating action on tourism as a major income earner for all partner states of the East African Community (EAC).
“The bill is about enabling an environment where marketing and promotion of tourism activities can be done jointly by all partner states. It also aims at setting standards for the tourism industry in the region by enhancing capacity building,” she said.
The bill also creates a tourism Commission that would coordinate the management of tourism and wildlife amongst the partner states.
The Commission will promote cultural tourism, wildlife management, guarantee Intellectual Property rights protection and promote East Africa as a single tourism destination.
The Kenyan legislator added that for East Africa to be a single tourism destination there will be need for harmonizing tourism policies and having the same incentives for tourists across the region.
James Ndahiro (Rwanda) said that the bill will promote joint research in the industry as well as sharing of expertise across borders.
Kate Kamba (Tanzania) said the region was endowed with enormous natural resources, whose management is burdened by bureaucracy among the member countries.
She said wild animals wander across borders and, therefore, it is imperative that the East African countries manage wildlife together.
“We need a united policy to protect the wildlife and manage the transport sector, which is vital in the tourism industry,” she said.
Hon. George Francis Nangale (Tanzania) said that the passing of the bill is yet another milestone to EALA in its efforts to coordinate East African Partner States towards the management of the tourism industry in the region.
The EALA session will be followed by a regional conference on Persons with Disabilities.