• A project by the government of Banyuwangi in Indonesia, and East Africa private sector body, East Africa Tourism Platform (EATP) have emerged winners and first runner up respectively of the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) Award for “Innovation in Public Policy and Governance.”

    The two were announced winners at the 12th UNWTO Awards on Excellence and Innovation in Tourism gala dinner at Fitur in Madrid, Spain on Wednesday.  

    The project by the government of Banyuwangi in Indonesia promoting ICT in tourism beat other nominees in the same category including East Africa Tourism Platform Multi-destination knowledge management tool; a public sector initiative to fight the sexual exploitation of children in the tourism sector in Medelin (Colombia), and the Green certification Programme of Puerto Rico.

    Winners in other categories were Lithuania in the class of “Innovation Business World”, Nepal's “Innovation non-governmental organizations”, with the award for “Innovation Research and Technology” category going to Brazil.

    The award recognizes initiatives that are highly innovative and managed by a public or public-private institution that reflects tangible and sustainable improvements in policy, processes, and governance. EATP won for its multi-destination knowledge management tool that help stakeholders package tourism products without borders.

    Secretary of Bunyawangi Slamet Kariyono said in a statement that the international tourism award was very significant for Indonesia especially after the recent terror attacks.

    According to EATP Regional Co-ordinator Carmen Nibigira, who spoke after receiving the award on behalf of the five East African countries, the Multi-Destination Knowledge management tool developed by EATP was nominated and awarded because of its model which allows tourism stakeholders to better package tourism products across the region.

    “Through this tool, regional tourism stakeholders have started trading each other’s products, packaging tourism products without borders, bench-marking among themselves and learning from each other.

    We are one people, but with a rich cultural diversity that needs to be tapped and harnessed for the benefit of developing tourism and our economies at large” said Mrs Nibigira 

    On his part, Kenya Tourism Minister Najib Balala who attended the event lauded the win noting that it would be a big boost for the East Africa Tourism Product.

    EATP was at the forefront to advocate for the single tourist visa, use of national IDs as travel documents for citizens between Kenya, Rwanda and Uganda, partial liberalization of EAC air space, free movement of tourism services, and joint marketing initiatives which is mainly under the East Africa Northern Corridor. Already, these initiatives are bringing positive effects on regional travel and tourism.

    The two were among a total of 17 projects from Africa, Latin America, Asia and Europe that were screened from 109 other programs of the UNWTO member countries around the world.