Tourism players are arm-twisting their governments to harmonise Covid-19 protocols to ease movement of tourists in the region, as they become the only bet, after lowering expectations they had from their traditional key source markets of Europe, USA and China.
The Covid-19 resurgence in the UK and other European countries late last year has dampened hopes of getting tourists from these markets, where even those that had booked cancelled, leaving local and regional tourists the only bet for tourism businesses to survive.
"We face cancellations and low bookings and have realised we shouldn't count on traditional key source markets" said Yves Ngenzi, the technical adviser to the East African Tourism Platform.
He said, as some of these countries go back into lockdown, and others put new restrictions on foreign travel, EAC countries should at least harmonise their Covid-19 protocols, and discard those that are cumbersome and expensive.
The platform recently petitioned regional governments, pointing out some of these key pain points that travellers face, asking them to make adjustments.
Prior to arrival, all EAC member states require travellers to take Covid-19 test hours before departure and present negative test certificates at the airports.
However, for Kenya and Rwanda, the only accepted test is a SARS-CoV 2 Real Time Polymerase Chain Reaction (RT-PCR) performed within 96 and 120 hours before departure, respectively.
Burundi requires the test to be taken within 72 hours before departure, Kenya requires it to be taken within 96 hours, while Rwanda and Uganda requires the test to be taken within 120 hours.
Tanzania and Uganda don't have a mandatory quarantine requirement for arriving passengers while Burundi and Rwanda require travellers to quarantine for 72 hours and 24 hours respectively in designated hotels as a second Covid-19 test is carried out at their own expense.