By: Kabaka James
On 17 June 2020, Rwanda Development board, RDB, announced the reopening of tourism activities as well as the resumption of international travel for charter flights. Since the 21st of March, tourism activities were temporally closed as part of the measures to prevent the spread of the coronavirus pandemic that has shaken the world since the end of 2019.
Belise Kariza, the chief tourism officer at RDB, assured all travelers and tourism operators on their well-being and safety while travelling to Rwanda. “Rwanda’s tourism industry is adapting to create a safe environment for travelers and operators, in order to thrive in these unprecedented times. We encourage all travel enthusiasts and nature explorers to take advantage of this unique opportunity to venture out and experience the beauty and adventure that our country has to offer,” she said.
For more than ten years tourism has been identified as a priority sector in which the government has invested resources with the target of increasing its annual revenue from US$200 million in 2010 to US$800 million by 2024 in a bid to achieve Rwanda’s development goals.
Recently efforts have been placed in the visit Rwanda campaign where, among other efforts, Rwanda has partnered with giants in the world of sports to increase her visibility, signing contracts with the English top club Arsenal and with Paris Saint Germain, the most successful French club in history. The country is now benefiting in different ways including to showcase Rwanda’s brands at a week-long event in Paris and the exclusivity in supply of coffee and tea at Parc des Princes, PSG’s home stadium.
Official statistics indicate that the country is getting a return on investment. In 2018, over 1.7 million people visited Rwanda, an increment of 8% from 2017. Out of this, the number of people visiting Rwanda for leisure increased by 38%, while MICE revenues jumped by 31%.
Further, the annual gorilla naming event known as Kwita Izina has become an international event, it brings together high-ranking government officials, renowned guests from around the world as well as Rwandans from all walks of life. It is a window to visit Rwanda and get to know the country’s culture and lifestyle of Rwandans.
In November 2017, President Paul Kagame received the world tourism award where the organisers honoured “his visionary leadership through a policy of reconciliation, sustainable tourism, wildlife conservation, and economic development attracting major hotel investment, resulting in the remarkable turnaround that has led to Rwanda’s rise as one of the leading tourism destinations in Africa.”