New tourism package to boost sector magnet

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Canopy Walk In Nyungwe

Canopu walk in Nyungwe Forest

Rwanda Development Board’s “convention tourism,” a new sector package, will play a central role in attracting international conventions and exhibitions into the country, officials have said.

A marketing strategy has been designed to market the country at an international level, highlighting the availability of the infrastructure and services such as exhibition spaces and hotels.

Boost for sector revenue

Rica Rwigamba, the head of tourism and conservation at Rwanda Development Board (RDB), last week said the institution is optimistic it will generate considerable revenue from tourism sector in the next few years, partly as a result of the new package.

The bureau implementing the Meetings, Incentives, Conferences, and Exhibitions (Mice) tourism strategy is expected to cost $1.5 million (about Rwf1 billion) on average on an annual basis, according to RDB.

“The Convention Bureau, an institutional framework that will implement the tourism campaign, will be in place early next year. We are waiting for the Cabinet to approve the five-year tourism strategy so that we can move forward,” she added.

Rwigamba said while in the country, conference participants would enjoy other tourist products on offer.

The country’s tourism products include rare Mountain Gorillas and beautiful canopy walk that gives tourists a spectacular experience in Nyungwe Park, the Kwita Izina (annual gorilla naming ceremony), the Congo Nile Trail, the newly-launched Musanze Caves, among others.

“The bureau will be one of a kind in the region apart from the one in South Africa,” Rwigamba said.

Manzi Kayihura, the president of the Rwanda Tours and Travel Association, said the new product will be timely as Rwanda is one of the best tourism destinations in the region.

“With the use of single tourist visa [effective next year by Uganda, Kenya and Rwanda] and other tourism campaigns by Rwanda Development Board, we hope to receive more and more tourists in the coming years,” he said.

Kayihura, who heads Thousand Hills Expeditions, said Kwita Izina event has played a key role in marketing Rwanda to the world.

Buoyant tourism

Rwanda’s tourism industry remains buoyant, with the sector being the largest foreign exchange earner for the past couple of years.

Numerous events and tourism sites launched in 2013 had triggered an investment boom in the industry that amounted to $217.7 million from January to October, compared to $210.5 million generated in 2012.

From January to September 2013, the country hosted 824,238 visitors, representing an increase of seven per cent compared to the same period in 2012 where 768,221 people visited.

A fortnight ago, Kwita Izina was short-listed among the finalists for the United Nations World Tourism Organisation Ulysses Award for innovation in public policy and governance.

The annual tourism event that has been celebrated for nine years now has seen thousands of people, including international celebrities and conservationists, visit to witness the ceremony.

Gorilla tracking is one of the major tourist attractions in the country, with permits costing $750 for foreign tourists.

Rwanda was ranked sixth on the 2013 world travel guide. The country was on the list of 10 in the world that are of classic travel for great sights and convenient travel,  adventurous places for those who are going above and beyond, seeking out the best travel and hardcore places for those who are willing to travel anywhere just for the buzz.

Portugal leads the pack, followed by Mozambique, Kyrgyzstan, Panama, Armenia, Cuba, Ukraine, Malawi and Canada in that order.

Rwanda also boasts forests and wildlife and landscapes for eco-tourism; snow, river and mountain peaks for adventure tourism, historical and cultural museums, among others.

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