EXHIBITORS from various countries attending the first ever conservation and tourism expo in Kigali said it is a perfect opportunity for networking and were optimistic it would help boost regional and international tourism in the future.
Several exhibitors from the region, including tour operators, hotel managers, and park rangers, are attending the three-day exhibition organised to raise awareness about regional conservation efforts and promote the different destinations.
The expo opened on Saturday at Kigali Conference Centre and Exhibition Village, as part of the 12th gorilla naming (Kwita Izina) events.
It brought together members of private and public sectors and development partners from Rwanda, Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania, Nigeria and Zimbabwe.
Exhibitors who spoke to The New Times said it was an opportunity to network and create market awareness to regional and international clients, saying this could enhance tourism and conservation related businesses.
“The exhibition is important in market awareness and building a strong link between tour operators and clients from across the region. I expect to improve business because we interacted and exchanged contacts for future collaboration, “said Shalif Lule, from Uganda.
Violet C.Mfuko, from Tanzania’s Viola Tours and Travel Services Ltd, said attending the expo was an opportunity for them to see the advancement in Rwanda’s hospitality, adding that apart from networking, her company would look to invest in the country’s tourism and hospitality sector.
“I couldn’t expect a more impressive tourism and hospitality! The hotels in Kigali are so green and beautiful for tourists to enjoy their stay. Also, tourism activities are many and business environment is friendly, we are looking to invest in Rwandan market,” said Mfuko.
The expo helped local exhibiters to showcase cultural-based products to many people with interest in tourism.
The tourism and conservation expo is one of the several events organised ahead of the Kwita Izina ceremony, including the inaugural Kwita Izina Dinner Gala on Friday in Kigali.
The events are part of Kwita Izina baby gorilla naming ceremony due Friday, September 2, in Kinigi Sector, Musanze District, where 21 baby gorillas will be named.
‘Mutual interest in tourism’
Officials from Rwanda Development Board (RDB) said the exhibition will help build mutual interest in sustainable tourism development.
“You have all chosen to be part of this important exhibition because of our mutual interest in sustainable tourism development,” RDB chief executive Francis Gatare said in a statement.
“This is the first edition of the Rwanda conservation and tourism exhibition but we will continue to organise it and grow with it, we therefore urge conservationists, exhibitors and tour operators from all over the world to participate.”
The Chief Tourism Officer at RDB, Belise Kariza, encouraged participants to participate in Kwita Izina, saying the ceremony is the most important annual national conservation and tourism event on the Rwandan calendar.
“It is not only a celebration of our conservation success story but a hybrid platform of events and a series of activities focused on conservation and sustainable tourism,” she said.
The tourism and conservation exhibition platform seeks to renew and enhance contacts for sales and partnerships, get more exposure for countries as tourism destinations, meet and network with various local, regional and international operators and learn and share current trends in promoting sustainable tourism.