Africa: How Rwanda Private sector grew Tourism revenue from $26M to $300M in 8 years

Over the years, Rwanda’s tourism sector has recorded a significant growth and this is because there have been a number of initiatives put in place to realize the potential of this unique and powerful sector.

Rwanda’s journey of development has seen the government position tourism as one of the priority sectors that cannot only contribute a lot towards the national gross domestic product (GDP) but also generate more opportunities to the local population.

From mountain gorillas, national parks & game reserves, sceneries, ornithology and water bodies to cultural heritage sites and world-class new hotel facilities, Rwanda is positioning itself as a tourism destination in the region.

Tourism revenues have significantly increased too. Statistics from Rwanda Development Board (RDB) reveal that Tourism revenues have increased from $26 million in 2005 to over $ 300 million in 2015, indicating a double-digit growth last year, and the private sector players have played a key role in seeing these figures increase.

That explains why RDB has engaged the private sector to spur domestic tourism too. It is recorded that despite tangible success in general tourism revenues, domestic tourists’ numbers are low compared to international numbers; Akagera National Park shows positive sign as Rwandans represent 61 percent of park visits, in Nyungwe domestic visits are at 37 percent and 14 percent in Volcanoes National Park.

“We hope to see these numbers increase and that is the purpose of the domestic tourism campaign (known as Tembera U’ Rwanda. We call upon the private sector to own this campaign for sustainable tourism development,” Belise Kariza, RDB’s Chief Tourism officer said in a recent interview.

A closer look into private sector’s achievement
A few years ago, the Private Sector Federation (PSF) was established as part of the government’s efforts to position the private sector at the heart of the development journey of the country. With several chambers, the chamber of tourism was set up and dedicated to tourism activities as the separate apex body of tourism sector entities.

The Chamber of Tourism is one of the nine professional chambers that currently exist under the umbrella of the PSF. The chamber is committed to promoting and representing the interests of players in the tourism sector in Rwanda.

The chamber promotes a program whereby hotels, restaurants, bars and other entertainment centers are encouraged to promote Rwandan culture. Events and activities such as traditional dances, music, poetry and sales of art and crafts are particularly popular.
On a quarterly basis, the chamber releases an events calendar which is circulated among all hotels, restaurants and other entertainment centers.

Seth Butera, the Coordinator of Rwanda Chamber of Tourism, explains that this chamber has been contributing a lot towards facilitating the private sector’s work in tourism.
“I want to, first of all, say that we are excited that most of the activities were given to the private sector, and together with the government, a lot have been done. We have been able to empower entrepreneurs in this particular sector and several business opportunities have been created through this chamber. This has been done through giving incentives to people like easy access to funds and allowing the openness to the market,” he says.

Butera adds that the private sector has also made crucial contributions toward promoting Rwandan products to both regional and international markets, highlighting some Made in Rwanda campaigns and initiatives that the chamber has kick-started.

“The PSF is now leading in participating in international trade fairs and other business to business exhibitions happening around the region. For instance, we recently hosted over a hundred tour operators in Kigali, looking at how we can forge business partnerships within travel and tour operations. It is in such ways that we are trying to market our country and brand Made in Rwanda products beyond the borders,” he notes.

Recently, Tours and travel operators from Rwanda were invited to participate at the World Travel Market in London, one of the leading global events for the travel industry. Operators are using this platform not only to showcase the country’s tourism potential but also establish contacts with world-class firms that provide cutting edge technologies for travel and tour businesses.

According to the chamber, there are more than 55 registered travel and tour companies which potentially operate on a regional level.

There have been tremendous achievements and progress registered lately specifically in attracting global hotel brands as well other accommodation entities, hosting international conferences and other big events. However, most of the big hotels are relatively costly when compared to the local people’s incomes.

The private sector has embarked on the journey of supporting small businesses so that they raise them to the level of where they can compete.

“Indeed some of these new hotel facilities which are coming up are expensive compared to the people’s standards of living, but we tend to believe that the sustainability of them should depend on locals. While this is a gradual process, the private sector is working hard to raise disposable personal incomes and empower businesses so that they can be able to compete,” says Butera.

He, however, says that these hotels should be seen in a way of supporting local population given that they create jobs for people in one way or another.

Conquering regional market
Many businesses working in the private sector have established locally, but the broader target is to conquer the regional market. Already some of them have started operating cross-border services including tour agencies, but there are ongoing efforts to support others.

“Some of the players have begun operations of cross-border services and this is geared at the PSF’s commitments to promote priority industries regionally and internationally. We know there are some challenges across some countries like the work permit fees and the cost of doing business, but we are doing a lot of work as far as lobbying and advocacy are concerned,” notes Butera, who’s also the national coordinator of East Africa Tourism Platform.

“I admit it’s still a challenge if a person cannot drive his Safari car from here to Tanzania or Burundi, but we are working to have harmonized policies where one can be able to use the identity card and a single tourist visa to travel and operate in member countries. On the other side, it’s about political will. Our government is as well committed,” he adds.
To achieve this, the private sector through its various initiatives is strategically working to support the government.

Over the years, Rwanda’s tourism sector has recorded a significant growth and this is because there have been a number of initiatives put in place to realize the potential of this unique and powerful sector. Rwanda’s journey of development has seen the government position tourism as one of the priority sectors that cannot only contribute a lot towards the national gross domestic product (GDP) but also generate more opportunities to the local population. From mountain gorillas, national parks & game reserves, sceneries, ornithology and water bodies to cultural heritage sites and world-class new hotel facilities, Rwanda is positioning itself as a tourism destination in the region. Tourism revenues have significantly increased too.

Statistics from Rwanda Development Board (RDB) reveal that Tourism revenues have increased from $26 million in 2005 to over $ 300 million in 2015, indicating a double-digit growth last year, and the private sector players have played a key role in seeing these figures increase.

That explains why RDB has engaged the private sector to spur domestic tourism too. It is recorded that despite tangible success in general tourism revenues, domestic tourists’ numbers are low compared to international numbers; Akagera National Park shows positive sign as Rwandans represent 61 percent of park visits, in Nyungwe domestic visits are at 37 percent and 14 percent in Volcanoes National Park. “We hope to see these numbers increase and that is the purpose of the domestic tourism campaign (known as Tembera U’ Rwanda.

We call upon the private sector to own this campaign for sustainable tourism development,” Belise Kariza, RDB’s Chief Tourism officer said in a recent interview.

A closer look into private sector’s achievement A few years ago, the Private Sector Federation (PSF) was established as part of the government’s efforts to position the private sector at the heart of the development journey of the country. With several chambers, the chamber of tourism was set up and dedicated to tourism activities as the separate apex body of tourism sector entities. The Chamber of Tourism is one of the nine professional chambers that currently exist under the umbrella of the PSF.

The chamber is committed to promoting and representing the interests of players in the tourism sector in Rwanda. The chamber promotes a program whereby hotels, restaurants, bars and other entertainment centers are encouraged to promote Rwandan culture. Events and activities such as traditional dances, music, poetry and sales of art and crafts are particularly popular.

On a quarterly basis, the chamber releases an events calendar which is circulated among all hotels, restaurants and other entertainment centers. Seth Butera, the Coordinator of Rwanda Chamber of Tourism, explains that this chamber has been contributing a lot towards facilitating the private sector’s work in tourism.

“I want to, first of all, say that we are excited that most of the activities were given to the private sector, and together with the government, a lot have been done. We have been able to empower entrepreneurs in this particular sector and several business opportunities have been created through this chamber. This has been done through giving incentives to people like easy access to funds and allowing the openness to the market,” he says.

Butera adds that the private sector has also made crucial contributions toward promoting Rwandan products to both regional and international markets, highlighting some Made in Rwanda campaigns and initiatives that the chamber has kick-started.

“The PSF is now leading in participating in international trade fairs and other business to business exhibitions happening around the region. For instance, we recently hosted over a hundred tour operators in Kigali, looking at how we can forge business partnerships within travel and tour operations. It is in such ways that we are trying to market our country and brand Made in Rwanda products beyond the borders,” he notes.

Recently, Tours and travel operators from Rwanda were invited to participate at the World Travel Market in London, one of the leading global events for the travel industry. Operators are using this platform not only to showcase the country’s tourism potential but also establish contacts with world-class firms that provide cutting edge technologies for travel and tour businesses. According to the chamber, there are more than 55 registered travel and tour companies which potentially operate on a regional level.

There have been tremendous achievements and progress registered lately specifically in attracting global hotel brands as well other accommodation entities, hosting international conferences and other big events. However, most of the big hotels are relatively costly when compared to the local people’s incomes. The private sector has embarked on the journey of supporting small businesses so that they raise them to the level of where they can compete.

“Indeed some of these new hotel facilities which are coming up are expensive compared to the people’s standards of living, but we tend to believe that the sustainability of them should depend on locals. While this is a gradual process, the private sector is working hard to raise disposable personal incomes and empower businesses so that they can be able to compete,” says Butera. He, however, says that these hotels should be seen in a way of supporting local population given that they create jobs for people in one way or another.

Conquering regional market Many businesses working in the private sector have established locally, but the broader target is to conquer the regional market. Already some of them have started operating cross-border services including tour agencies, but there are ongoing efforts to support others. “Some of the players have begun operations of cross-border services and this is geared at the PSF’s commitments to promote priority industries regionally and internationally.

We know there are some challenges across some countries like the work permit fees and the cost of doing business, but we are doing a lot of work as far as lobbying and advocacy are concerned,” notes Butera, who’s also the national coordinator of East Africa Tourism Platform.

“I admit it’s still a challenge if a person cannot drive his Safari car from here to Tanzania or Burundi, but we are working to have harmonized policies where one can be able to use the identity card and a single tourist visa to travel and operate in member countries. On the other side, it’s about political will. Our government is as well committed,” he adds. To achieve this, the private sector through its various initiatives is strategically working to support the government.

Source: newtimes.co.rw

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