Word from CBC CEO

Ms. Sandra Uwera

I am excited to tell you the story of COMESA’s tourism destinations. This handbook captures delightful collations from 19 countries offering a diversity of flora and fauna, culture, species of animals and birds, historical sites and unforgettable experiences. We invite you to settle on your couch and enjoy the COMESA experience through the unique lens of tourism. Within the framework of promoting Intra-trade in the region, tourism stands out as an under-exploited and yet profitable sector that directly contributes to the economic diversification and structural transformation of our countries. Despite the global economic shocks on the market that the world has been experiencing in the recent years, the general outlook for the tourism sector has been experiencing a steady rise. The UNWTO confirms that by 2014, a total number of 56 million arrivals were recorded in Africa compared to 48 million tourists between 2005- 2008. According to the UNCTAD report on economic development in Africa , themed

“Tourism for transformative and inclusive growth”, average annual growth rates for the COMESA region were upto 6% in 2014. In 2011–2014, Northern Africa received on average 43 per cent of tourism export revenues, followed by Southern Africa at 26% and Eastern Africa at 20%. Comparing export revenues with arrivals indicates that Southern Africa obtains more export revenues per arrival than Northern Africa, indicating that an important share of the tourism product on offer in Southern Africa may be more upmarket than in Northern Africa. In the next 20 years it is believed that Africa’s tourist statistics will definitely triple , as we continue to promote packages that capture various market segments of the regional and global market.

This handbook was developed to implement one of the key strategies of the COMESA Sustainable Tourism Development Framework( 2013), which seeks to raise awareness on the regional offerings, so as to encourage member states to develop stronger linkages through public- private and private -private solutions on attracting more tourists with unique offers at a regional level. We hope to see synergies and tourism partnerships at a transboundary level with the information we have provided here. This handbook provides tourists coming to COMESA a way to make their adventures more exciting, a taste of what to look for when they visit COMESA.

Across Africa, tourism remains one of the most promising sector most especially with the impact it has on agriculture, manufacturing, logistics and complimentary services industries. Tourism greatly contributes to the socio-economic welfare of our countries and is seen as a key instrument to poverty alleviation. The sector has the potential to create jobs for million of citizens of the continent and provide significant revenue for cultural and ecological conservation. It is believed that 1 out of 11 livelihoods is supported by the tourism sector. The private sector is therefore urged to create and manage a competitive sector with strong policies that promote transboundary tousim initiative, invests in quality products and encourages more industry participation in positioning the region on the world map as the world’s top tourism destination.

Consequently, the COMESA Tourism Wildlife and Heritage Handbook has been developed has one of the tourism marketing tool for the region. The handbook aims to highlight and provide regional destinations with some of the tourism highpoints that each COMESA Member state has to offer. After taking a walk through our handbook you will discover the rich diversity and abundance of natural resources that COMESA region has to offer. They range from cultural and historical sites, the flora and fauna, the beautiful sandy beaches and deserts, safaris and much more. As the sector is developed the regions’ economic growth will unfold and be stronger in attracting more tourists thereby improving the lives of its locals.

Therefore, the public sector must not leave tourism development to the private sector alone but work together as partners in development. A specialized Private Private mechanism for tourism development must be structured to capture the sustainability, conservation and profitability of the industry at a national , regional and global scale. They must draw up effective strategies that promote and foster development of the tourism sector and make it to be more participatory and competitive on the global market. The public private partnerships must further promote strategies that will emphasize on quality tourism products to be offered and that guarantee the satisfaction of tourists and make them to long for more and more visits to our region.

Tourism must be seen as a catalyst for economic growth for the African continent. The UNWTO Secretary General echoes that we have to ensure the growth of the tourism sector that will make a palpable difference and will promote inclusive economic growth for the sector to make a visible and tangible impact on all of the African countries.

On behalf of the CBC team, I extend our appreciation to all COMESA member states- specifically the Tourism Authorities and Associations. May I also recognize the Africa Travel Association, Corporate Council on Africa- CCA, Africa Wildlife Foundation- AWF for their support and contributions to the magazine. Secondly, I would like to recognize our key supporting partner United Stated Agency for Internaitonal Development- USAID- East Africa, for their financial support towards the realization of this publication.

I am honored to see the realization of this project and present to you this handbook with a warm heart. Welcome to COMESA’s World of Tourism- One Market , Countless Destinations.