The emergence of the “Coalition of the Willing” last year saw the launch of such tourism-related initiatives like the introduction of the common tourist visa and the use of joint exhibition spaces at major tourism trade fairs.
The tourist boards of the three countries have among themselves also agreed to support key events in each country which can be used to promote tourism, and this was manifest at the just-ended Martyrs Day in Uganda, where observers from the Kenya Tourism Board and from the Tourism and Conservation Department of the Rwanda Development Board were present in a show of solidarity. Hundreds of thousands of locals were joined by thousands of visitors from abroad, many from the wider region and many who actually walked for many days towards the venue in a classic display of pilgrimage.
Tourism Uganda had over the past years identified religious or pilgrimage tourism as a new niche and strongly promoted the event abroad and the new-founded partnership with neighbors Kenya and Rwanda has no doubt helped to further publicize this already high-profile event.
In turn, Uganda and Kenya will be present with official delegations in the upcoming gorilla naming festival, Kwita Izina, which this year on June 21 will see its own 10th anniversary since the event was launched in 2005. Conservationists from around the world are expected to join thousands of Musanze residents in Kingigi outside the park headquarters of the Volcanoes National Park to see 16 gorilla babies named this year.
Later this year, Rwanda and Uganda will then join hands with their Kenyan colleagues and attend the Magical Kenya Travel Expo in Nairobi, a tourism trade fair of growing importance which this year will see over a hundred hosted buyers attend alongside over 100 invited media personnel to help boost Kenya’s market position and help to promote not just Kenya but the wider region.
It is understood from impeccable sources that the three have kept the door open for Burundi Tourism to join up and come on board, which would allow the Burundians to name their own national event for regional support and wider promotion and benefit from a strengthened partnership, an invitation also open for the Tanzanian colleagues which would make it five out of five for the East African Community.