Although there are signs of recovery, the economic impact of the tourism industry has also left the wildlife and conservation sector in a vulnerable state.

A combination of reduced funding from tourists and lower management capacity from budget cuts and restrictions have created a “perfect storm” to harm conversation efforts. As a result the region has seen steady trafficking rates.

Vaccine rollout will impact East Africa’s tourism numbers

The vaccine rollout will play a key role in the recovery of the sector. The UNWTO assumes that countries with low vaccination rates will likely see a 75% reduction in tourism, while countries with high vaccination rates will see a 37% reduction.

Vaccination schemes across Kenya, Rwanda, and Uganda are well underway. While in Tanzania, the new president’s recent U-turn on the Covid-19 policy will instill more confidence in travelers. Under President Hassan, Tanzania has started reporting statistics on the virus for the first time in over a year and has ordered vaccines.

East African governments are introducing incentives to attract holidaymakers. In Tanzania, the national park authority, TANAPA, has halted the plans to increase park entrance fees, while Uganda reduced their prices for gorilla trekking permits.

In July 2021, The East African Community (EAC) revealed their plan to revitalize the sector, which includes bolstering domestic and regional tourism. “The signs this year are still bleak given the recurrent waves of the pandemic,” said Dr. Peter Mathuki, the EAC Secretary General.  “It has resulted in unpredictable measures and restrictions by governments around the world.”

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