Tourism is the practice for travelling for purposes of leisure, curiosity or study.
Tourism is the leading invisible export of East Africa and it is one of the major foreign exchange earners for the governments.
Tourist attractions in East Africa include:
- Wildlife: this includes animals, vegetation, and birds i.e. flora and fauna e.g. zebras, hippos, lions, flamingos, crocodiles, savannah vegetation, tropical forests e.t.c. these are conserved in national parks, game parks, game reserves like Queen Elizabeth, Serengeti, Kidepo Valley, Masai Mara, Mkomazi, and Tsavo. N.B wildlife is the most important tourist attraction in East Africa.
- Climate and other resources attached to it e.g. sports, sunbathing, conducive situations of swimming e.t.c. East Africa has got a number of climate types e.g. savannah, equatorial, Semi-arid, Swamp, and Montane climate.
- Relief features like high mountains e.g. Kilimanjaro, Kenya, and Rwenzori with snow at the top, and the rift valley plains.
- Historical sites e.g. Nyero rock paintings in Kumi, Kasubi tombs, Olduvai Gorge, and Fort Jesus at Mombasa e.t.c.
- Culture e.g. East Africa has got a number of cultures based on the different tribes e.g. the Masai, kiganda culture where people exhibit their cultures in different ways of dressing, eating.
- Drainage systems e.g. East Africa have got a number of drainage systems ranging from lakes like Victoria and rivers e.g. Rufigi, Nile, and Tana.
The following are Factors favoring the development of tourism industries in East Africa
- The region is endowed with a variety of tourist attractions such as wildlife, drainage features, historical sites, and coastal landforms which all attract foreign tourists.
- Peace and stability especially in Kenya and Tanzania and some parts of Uganda which have ensured that the tourists are sure of their safety.
- Improvement in the transport network system especially roads, waterways, and air transport has facilitated the easy movement of tourists to their areas of interest.
- Increased level of advertisement to outside countries is being done through embassies abroad through international Television channels, magazines, radios which have made tourists aware of what is in East Africa.
- Local people of East Africa provide good hospitality for the tourists which also attracts foreign visitors because they are assured of good care and warm welcome.
- Improvement in the accommodation facilities e.g. hotels, lodges, and guest houses which have provided residential services to tourists.
- Increased level of education given to the local people have created more awareness and appreciations for the tourism industries e.g. courses related to tourism have been introduced at different institutions within East Africa e.g. Bachelor of Leisure and Hospitality Management.
- Presence of adequate capital from local and foreign individuals to invest in the sector e.g. for construction of hotels.
- Favourable government policy that encourages investment in tourism e.g. liberalization of the tourist sector, low taxation and increased subsidization of investors in the tourism sector.
- Availability of enough skilled and unskilled labour force to work in the industry e.g. hotel managers and game rangers.