Rwanda Tourism to Fetch $444 Million in 2017

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Tourists marvel at gorillas whose numbers are rising

Rwanda tourism industry is projected to fetch about $444 million (about Rwf370 billion) in 2017, up from $404 million last year.

According to Rwanda Development Board the increase in revenue is due to continued tourism promotion efforts as well as the Meetings, Incentives, Conferences, Events and Exhibitions (MICE) strategy.

Local tourism stakeholders say the targets by RDB are feasible and could easily be surpassed largely due to the new gorilla trekking fees, RwandAir expansion and the MICE initiative.

Speaking at a media breakfast meeting in Kigali, RDB Chief Tourism Officer Belise Kariza stated that for Rwanda to turn to a luxurious and high-end tourism destination will need to review and improvement of the quality of services offered.

“As the country positions itself as a high-end tourism destination, there are a lot of things that have to happen, including enhancing the level of services. We are planning a tourism working group to develop a marketing strategy to position Rwanda as a high end destination,” she said.

“It is not only about the price. It also has to have value for money, which has a service delivery component. This includes, transport, airport facilities and other aspects of the value chain.”

“We are expecting an increase in tourists coming to Rwanda this year, because of several strategies we have put in place like MICE strategy, introduction of lions and rhinos in Akagera National Park among others,” she added.

RDB is considering turning the country into a luxurious tourism destination that would drive up revenues.

Belise also said that the general conducive business environment in the country and specific reforms that have been put in place for tourism such as marketing and infrastructure and high-end tourism strategy will enable Rwanda generate the targeted revenues in 2017.

This revenue projections comes at a time as Rwanda is turning into a high-end tourism destination follows recent revision of gorilla trekking permit fees from $750 to $1,500.

To facilitate the ambition, RDB is planning to convene a tourism stakeholders’ working group for a brainstorming session.

Rwanda’s efforts to grow MICE tourism are paying off, having been ranked at 3rd in Africa after South Africa and Morocco in terms of capacity to host international meetings by the 2016 International Congress and Convention Association (ICCA) report.

MICE is an important segment to Rwanda’s tourism industry having generated 47 million dollars in 2016 and projected to contribute 64 million U.S dollars to the tourism industry this year.

Rwanda’s tourism sector continues to be the country’s largest foreign exchange earner thanks to exceptional hospitality given to tourists.

Already, there have been some high cost investments made in line with the ambitious tourism goals such as the Bisate Lodge by Wilderness Safaris in Kinigi, which will be launched this year.

Another investor, Singita Luxury African Safari Lodges Reserves, is expected to open their facility in 2019.

Gorillas continue to be among the top tourism attractions in the country. Last year, 22,219 gorilla permits were sold, rising about Rwf15.6 billion. However, some bookings were made before the price revisions; hence the tourists in question will still pay $750.

The country’s tourism sector has been bullish, thanks to high-level meetings.

Over 20,000 visitors attended events in Kigali, giving the sector a much-needed boost. It also helped new international hotel brands and the Kigali Convention Centre (KCC) get a foothold in the market.

With coming of global hotel brands Marriott, Radisson Blu and Park Inn opened their doors to the public gives boost to tourism industry.

A recent International Monetary Fund (IMF) mission advised that the full potential of the country’s tourism sector can be realised from improving on quality of services at tourism establishments.

The IMF team said that there continues to be some constraints in delivering high quality services across the sector.

Kariza said RDB is aware of the challenges is working with sector stakeholders to make required improvements.

Meanwhile, Kariza announced that this year’s Kwita Izina (baby gorilla naming ceremony) will be marked in a weeklong event with the grand occasion scheduled for September 1.

 

 

 

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