NAIROBI, Kenya Oct 19 – Tourism players in the East Africa region are set to conduct a price competitiveness survey in a bid to ensure uniformity of prices across the five countries.
The move is a commitment by the players to bring down the cost of tourism products within the region as they seek to increase its attractiveness domestically and internationally.
East Africa Tourism Platform (EATP) Regional Coordinator Carmen Nibigira says the survey will be conducted in partnership with source markets and tourism boards with the key objective of streamlining taxes, prices, air fares with a view of making East Africa a more affordable and attractive destination.
“The exercise will involve studying each partner state and region’s price competitiveness with regard to taxes, levies and charges so as to inform regional and National policy reforms,” said Nibigira.
She says the survey will inform how the five countries namely Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda, Tanzania and Burundi will develop, design and price products that are relevant to the domestic and regional market while accelerating consumption of the same.
“We as East Africa Tourism Platform (EATP) are lobbying on behalf of private sector on the issue of high cost of domestic and regional air travel, open sky policies and the free movement of tourism vehicles and services as we continue to foster discussion around these issues,” she said.
So far under the Northern Corridor Joint Marketing Initiative, some airfares within the region have dropped by over 50 percent as a result of bilateral agreements signed between member countries and more continue to be signed.
On his part Mike Macharia who is also a member of the Northern Corridor Joint Marketing committee said the East Africa tourism private sector continues to lobby for further concessions in making the destination more affordable and attractive including the launch of one destination web portal, the Single Tourist Visa and addressing the issue of seasonality to ensure sustainable tourism.
“A flight from Nairobi to Kigali on RwandAir was costing $700 and now it is $300.That is a $ 400 cut .We are looking forward to regional airlines signing such more agreements that will make air travel attractive and affordable within this region therefore spurring increased movement ,”Macharia noted.
The East Africa tourism body is also calling for a political solution for the on-going political crisis in Burundi.
EATP Chairman Manzi Kayihura noted that the negative effects of the ongoing crisis are being suffered by all member countries and not Burundi only.