Tuesday, 22 January 2013

East African Community: Cultural events can awaken East African Cultural Tourism


EAC secretariat has organized the first ever East AfricanArt and Culture Festival — Jam fest, or Jumuiya Ya Africa Mashariki Utamaduni — which will be launched in Kigali and is hoped to become rotational.
Poor marketing of East Africa’s rich art and culture is a drag on the competitiveness of the nascent industry despite its potential to rival Brazil’s.
“There are clear business benefits in developing cultural events that attract tourists. For example, the Rio Carnival brings in an estimated $500 million into Brazil’s economy each year,” a statement from the East African Community says.
Citing the annual Sauti za Busara festival in Zanzibar that attracts more than 200 performers and thousands of visitors, experts say art and cultural events could be a boon to the region’s tourism and travel sectors.
It is against this backdrop that the EAC secretariat has organized the first ever East African Art and Culture Festival — Jam fest, or Jumuiya Ya Africa Mashariki Utamaduni — which will be launched in Kigali and is hoped to become rotational.
Have shown enthusiasm
The six-day festival runs from February 11 to 16 and is expected to attract at least 300 participants from Burundi, Rwanda, Uganda, Kenya and Tanzania.
Initially, each sister state was to send 50 participants. However, as the D-day draws closer, performing artists from various countries have shown increasing enthusiasm, forcing the organizers to adjust the quota system.
Rica Rwigamba, head of conservation and tourism at the Rwanda Development Board, said the festival helps the board to achieve its plan of promoting cultural events as part of a larger programme to diversify tourism products.
Diversifying products, according to experts, works as a pull factor for more tourists and also makes them spend more hours in the country, which translates into more revenues.