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    Thursday, November 23, 2023

    Third Edition of East African Regional Tourism Expo Kicks Off in Nairobi

    Eliane Irakoze

    The annual regional travel fair, East African Regional Tourism Expo (EARTE), opened on November 20 at the Kenyatta International Convention Centre (KICC) in Nairobi.

    The expo, which brought together over 250 exhibitors, is scheduled for November 20-22. The EARTE aims to showcase the region's diverse tourism offerings to consumers and trade, hosted by the East African Community partner states on a rotational basis.

    The expo has been combined with the Magical Kenya Tourism Expo (MKTE) to create more value and enhance engagement for all participants.

    Rwanda's High Commissioner to Kenya, Martin Ngoga, during the opening, lauded Kenya for hosting the expo emphasising its importance.

    He disclosed that the MKTE does not only offer an opportunity to market the tourism potential of each East African country but also in the region.

    "The faster we can get to that level where we market our potential together as a region the better because together we are stronger. I applaud the statistics, particularly on the contribution of tourism. It has been growing in my own country and in the whole EAC," he said.

    Ngoga also emphasised that Rwanda welcomes everyone to experience its beautiful terrain, including the unique offerings of Akagera National Park and the canopy walk in Nyungwe forest, both designated as UNESCO heritage sites due to their rich fauna and flora.

    He stated that Rwanda's national airline intends to expand its coverage to additional destinations after the recent addition of Paris, bringing the total to 24 destinations. He urged tourists and other potential buyers at the expo to stop by the Rwanda Development Board (RDB) stand for further information.

    "We have what it takes to be a premier tourist destination. To leverage the attractions we have, we need to work together through various initiatives, such as joint tourism promotion.

    "The EARTE is among the key initiatives that we have embarked on as part of implementing the Regional Tourism Marketing Strategy 2021 - 2025 aimed at increasing visitor arrivals to pre-pandemic levels of 7.2 million by the end of 2024," said Annette Ssemuwemba Mutaawe, who was representing the Secretary General of the East African Community.

    Moses Nezehose, founder of Gorilla Expedition Safaris is among the Rwandans participating at the expo for the third time. He highlighted the impact of this event.

    "We get to meet serious buyers here who are ready to expand their businesses in Rwanda. It has been productive which is why we keep coming back," he said.

    The Magical Kenya Travel Expo is Kenya's annual flagship travel trade fair that brings together tourism stakeholders, partners, and media from some of Kenya's key source markets in Europe, Africa, Asia, and the Americas.

    The inaugural Regional Tourism Expo was hosted by the United Republic of Tanzania (URT) in October 2021 in Arusha, while the second edition was hosted by the Republic of Burundi in September 2022 in Bujumbura.

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