There have been quite a lot of tourism and ecommerce happenings in the past 3 months in East Africa. Check out some of the highlights, below:
UN launches $22 trillion e-commerce plan
A new initiative set up to help developing countries earn an estimated $22 trillion from ecommerce was launched at the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) hosted in Nairobi in July.
More than 8,000 delegates from around the world attended the event.
Mukhisa Kituyi, secretary general of UNCTAD, said it was vital for developing countries to fully utilize ecommerce opportunities. Research data showed a 38 percent increase in the value of the sector compared to 2013.
“A huge divide is opening between countries that are exploiting those opportunities and those that are not,” he said.
The new initiative will be called “eTrade for All” and will help developing countries navigate more easily the supply of technical and financial cooperation from the international community.
Kenyan leader Uhuru Kenyatta stated: “Africa needs partnership and not patronage”.
GSMA and Local Mobile Network Operators to Implement Tanzania Rural Connectivity Project
GSMA, which represents the interests of mobile operators worldwide, has launched the first active infrastructure sharing initiative in East Africa. It will be between mobile network operators (MNOs) Airtel, Millicom and Vodacom.
Six 3G pilot sites will be established throughout the country’s rural areas to test the sustainable provision of mobile broadband services to 13 million people who are as yet unconnected.
Mats Granryd, Director General, GSMA stated that the cooperation between the Tanzanian MNOs demonstrates that the industry’s commitment to connecting the remaining 13 million citizens in Tanzania millions living in rural areas.
At the end of 2015, Tanzanian’s mobile telephony market had more than 17 million individual mobile subscribers, accounting for 34 million connections across the country.
The agreement is the result of a year-long collaboration between the GSMA Connected Society program, the three local operators and the government of Tanzania.
Zanzibar to get “Green” hotel
Tanzanian based Bakhresa Group has appointed Verde Hotels from South Africa to develop and manage the total overhaul and upgrading of the old Mtoni Marine Hotel in Zanzibar, 2km from Stone Town. The brand new five-star property will be known as Hotel Verde, and will be Zanzibar’s greenest hotel.
“We approached the developers of Africa’s greenest hotel, Verde Hotels to ensure that Hotel Verde Zanzibar will be the greenest hotel in East Africa,” stated Mr. Said Salim Awadh Bakhresa, Chairman of the Bakhresa Group.
According to a statement issued by Verde Hotels, the development will integrate sustainability into every facet of their involvement in the construction, as well as throughout the hotel’s daily operation. This includes renewable energy generation; regenerative drive elevators, a grey water recycling system, responsible procurement, waste minimization and management and indoor environmental quality optimization.
Hotel Verde Zanzibar will showcase the integration of 5-star luxury and environmental best practice. The hotel will feature 142 ultra-stylish rooms, luxury suites, a spa, gym, restaurants, entertainment and marina.
Verde Hotels is a sustainable hotel operator responsible for the success of Hotel Verde in Cape Town, South Africa. It is the first hotel in the world to be certified with a Platinum LEED green building certification for both Design, Construction, Operations and Maintenance.
Resumption of Univisa Project with Zimbabwe and Botswana
Zambia, Zimbabwe and Botswana have resumed a multinational visa project which seeks to promote foreign direct investments in the three African countries.
The multinational visa, known as the Kavango Zambezi Transfrontier Conservation Area (KAZA) UNIVISA project, was originally launched in November 2014 in Zambia and Zimbabwe. It was suspended at the end of December 2015 by both governments to enable them to focus on the addition of a third country.
The KAZA UNIVISA now allows tourists to travel within Zambia, Botswana and Zimbabwe with a single document, which costs US$50.
According to the Zambia Tourism Board, currently citizens of most countries are required to apply for the UNIVISA at missions abroad. However, citizens of 40 countries, among which Australia, Canada, Denmark, France, and Germany, can acquire it at Lusaka, Livingstone and Ndola airports.
Additionally, citizens of 60 countries, which include Ireland, Kenya, South Africa, and Tanzania, are exempt and can enter up to 30 days with their normal travel documents.
According to the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC), Zambia recorded 923,000 tourist arrivals in 2015 and in it expected to reach 1,104,000 in 2016. By 2026 tourist arrivals are forecast to reach 2,119,000 according to the same source.
Senators Want Better Management for Tourist Sites
A report on the implementation of government programs in the tourism industry has presented six recommendations for further development in the tourism sector. These include ensuring that districts put developing tourism in their annual performance contracts and devising tourism master plans.
The recommendations are contained in the report prepared by the senatorial Standing Committee on Economic Development and Finance and submitted in the Senate during July.
Recommendations highlight the need for designated national museums to focus on specific topics such as colonization, nature, the liberation war, among other areas, expanding buffer zones to prevent animals in Akagera and Volcanoes national parks from attacking people and their property, and opening the northern entrance of Akagera National Park to facilitate tourists entering from the northern part of the country.
They also include conducting research to enrich documentation of the history of various touristic sites in the country and ensuring that training in tourism and hospitality sectors is based on practice rather than theories.
Rwanda's tourism sector has lately been growing rapidly, with the RDB estimating revenues of $318 million in 2015 up from $131 million in 2006.
Major reforms in Visa applications
Visitors seeking to enter Uganda can now apply for visas online and pay less for them.
Online visa applications started working with effect from July. Anybody wishing to visit Uganda for business or pleasure, study, or medical reasons, can now apply for and obtain a Visas online.
Furthermore the Government has announced that with effect from July, in a move to boost the country’s tourism sector, VISA fees have been cut in half from $100 to $50.
Visas that can be applied and obtained online include Multiple-Entry visa, Diplomatic and Official visa, Ordinary Visa, East Africa Tourist Visa (multiple entry valid for 90 days to Uganda, Kenya and Rwanda) and Transit Visas.
Approvals will be sent to the applicants email address as an attachment to the official notification email. The applicant will be required to print it out and present it together with a valid passport / travel document at the point of entry.
Ethiopia’s tourist industry is shifting gears to a new initiative to increase the number of visitors with its recently launched “Land of Origin” promotion.
The government has emphasized the need to develop an environmentally friendly and economically viable tourism sector, to generate sustainable revenue and supporting the national mission to become a middle income country within a decade.
To maximize the country’s tourism potential, the government is investing in key infrastructural sectors such as in transport, energy, water and telecommunications.
The “Land of Origin” marketing strategy connects the tourism sector with the broader growth agenda that has become the priority of the country and investors.
According to the Ministry of Culture and Tourism (MoCT), the tourist industry has generated more US$2.6 billion from in excess of 700,000 tourists during the first nine months of 2016. It is seeking to triple the number of foreign visitors to more than 2.5 million in the coming four years, making tourism a pillar of the country’s economy.