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EAC passes bill on coordination of tourism sector development

Member states of the East African Community (EA C) will from now coordinate national laws and regulations concerning tourism development, followi ng the passing of the EAC Tourism and Wildlife Management Bill, 2008, by the East African Legislative Asse mbly (EALA).

The Assembly, sitting in Kampala, Uganda, passed the Bill Friday after a thoroug h and marathon debate chaired by the EALA Speaker Abdulrahin Haithar Abdi.

In a brief Saturday, the EAC Secretariat said the private memberâ?s Bill, moved by Safina Kwekwe Tsungu of Kenya, seeks to establish a cooperation framework in tourism and wildlife resources man agement.

It also aims at harmonising national policies, laws, regulations and standards c oncerning tourism and wildlife management.

In effect, the Bill seeks to operationalise some three articles of the Treaty fo r the Establishment of the EAC which makes provision for establishing a framework for cooperation in natural resources mana gement, including the management of tourism and wildlife.

According to Tsungu, sustainable tourism development within the context of EAC n ecessitates deliberate and concerted common policies for the region, to guide the establishment of a co-operation fra mework that will guide and facilitate the actions of the respective governments, private and civil society sectors.

The legislator asserted that it was imperative therefore to charge this responsi bility, through the relevant legislation, to a legally constituted framework that defines parameters to work out and coordinate the coo peration areas â?in this very important livelihood and income generating sector for the entire region.â?

During the debate, Kate Kamba of Tanzania said the EAC region was endowed with e normous natural resources, whose management was burdened by bureaucracy among the member countries.

She said that wild animals wonder across borders and, therefore, it is imperativ e that the East African countries manage wildlife together. â?We need a united policy to protect the wildlife and manage the transport sector, wh ich is vital in the tourism industry.â?

Meanwhile, Gervase Akhaabi of Kenya said that tourism provides a large proportio n of employment and comparative management of the industry has an advantage to the region.

â?It is important that we recognise tourism as important in our agenda of impro ving the economic wellbeing of our people, which is a core objective for the community,â? he said.

George Francis Nangale (Tanzania), chair of the Assemblyâ?s Committee on Agricu lture, Tourism and Natural Resources, said the passing of the Bill was yet another milestone to EALA in its efforts to coordinate East African part ner states towards the management of the tourism industry in the region.

Through the Bill, the Assembly proposes the creation of the East African Tourism and Wildlife Management Commiss which shall be responsible for the overall supervision, coordination and management of all matters related to the p romotion/marketing and development of the tourism and wildlife industry in the East African region.

The Commission shall be accountable to the Council of EAC Ministers and its head quarters shall be situated in such place as the Council of Ministers may determine.

In accordance with the EAC Treaty, the Bill will be submitted to the EAC Heads o f State for assent.

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