The ongoing Dutch tourism fair, Vakantiebeurs 2017, has raised Rwanda’s tourism potential as major Dutch tour companies pick an interest.
It is the eighth time Rwanda is showcasing its tourist attractions at the largest tourism exhibition in Benelux (Belgium, Netherland, Luxembourg) that ends Sunday in Utrecht.
“What we notice this year at the Vakantiebeurs, contrary to last year, is that a couple of major Dutch tour companies have started selling complete tours(with itineraries to all attractions) to Rwanda,” Robert Kayinamura, First Counsellor at the Rwandan Embassy at The Hague, told The New Times yesterday.
“In addition, companies such as Untamed Travel, a high-end tour company, are working on plans to send their best travel agents to Rwanda for an educational trip”.
According to Kayinamura, awareness of Rwanda as a tourism destination has increased.
“The questions from visitors have changed from; ‘is it safe?’ to ‘what can I do when I get there”?
Rwanda is among the 160 countries that participate at the Vakantiebeurs, which attracts more than 125,000 visitors.
The Rwanda Development Board (RDB), the Embassy of Rwanda in The Hague, Amahoro Tours, Mountain Gorilla Safaris, Wildlife Tours Rwanda, Mercator Assistance and the African Parks Foundation are represented at the Rwanda stand during the six-day event.
This year’s edition of Rwanda at Vakantiebeurs is about discovering “Remarkable Rwanda” and it is also all about Rwandan coffee and tea.
It was not only about the special flavours and how it tastes, Kayinamura said, but also the important stories and the people behind the Rwandan coffee.
The Rwandan tourism circuit has been getting rave reviews from various travel experts.
Both Bloomberg and CNN voted Rwanda among the 17 best destinations of choice this year. San Francisco Chronicle placed it among the top ten.
To crown the fair, Rwanda’s Ambassador to the Netherlands, Jean Pierre Karabaranga, invited Mayor Van Zanen of Utrecht, Dutch tourism professionals and travel media to a RwandaFull Reception.
According to the embassy, tour operators like Jambo Safari Club, Untamed Travelling and AV Tours & Safari are selling a variety of Rwanda round trips and the overall experience is that the tour operators are satisfied as they have seen an increase in numbers.
The 22 percent increase in arrivals from the Netherlands in 2015 is likely to continue in 2016 and 2017.
Davidson Mugisha, of Wildlife Tours Rwanda, one of the local tour operators participating in the exhibition, told The New Times that the benefit from participation does not only go to his company.
“It is important for Rwanda and the continent in general because we showcase Africa too. Regarding Rwanda, our participation helps give confidence to the people we interact with while here. We give them facts about our country and its tourism potential, he said.
“It is about confidence building because when they see us and we speak to them, they get it all from the horse’s mouth. In terms of business too, the numbers are good. The return on investment is high”.
An internationally renowned magazine Condé Nast Traveler named Rwanda as the second best travel destination in Africa in 2017.
The American luxury and travel magazine ranked Rwanda 14th globally and one of two African countries in Africa. The other country is Zimbabwe.
In its ranking, the publication noted that Rwanda’s tourism is enjoying an upward trajectory for the past decade and is “of one of the most anticipated hotel openings on the continent.”