Lack of requisite skills and a demoralised workforce are some of the major challenges constraining the growth of the tourism industry, a new survey by the Private Sector Federation has indicated.
The study conducted in November last year also revealed that limited investments in the sector, an education system that is not responding to the needs of the market, lack of incentives to employees, as well as poor planning are also threatening the industry.
The study noted that the Workforce Development Authority is not helping promote tourism as a good career option among students.
According to Carmen Nibigira, a Burundi-based tourism consultant, who participated in this study, there is an urgent need not only to train more labour force in the tourism sector, but also to make sure that workers acquire the necessary skills if the industry is to attract high-end tourists.
“You need to equip sector workers with relevant skills that match market demands, especially on quality and product development,” he said.
According to the survey, lack of skilled personnel poor remunerations, as well as ‘bad’ hotel owners and managers are responsible for low quality services in hotels.
“There is still a missing gap between the education and tourism policies. Also, the sector is focusing a lot on the masses and is giving less alternatives,” Nabigira said.
He urged players to set specific objectives and involve investors in planning to help grow the sector.
Nibigira noted that sector players need to work with policy-makers to ensure there is a good environment to deliver quality services.
Faustin Karasira, the Rwanda Development Board tourism and conservation division product development and planning manager, said product diversification, skills and capacity development, especially in the hospitality industry, will be essential to the growth of the tourism sector.
“Improving the country’s tourism infrastructure, bringing on board international product brands, the construction of Kigali Cultural Village, enhancing the Lake Kivu beaches, and the Karisimbi cable car that will be the fourth longest cable car in the world, should be harnessed to promote the sector,” he said.
According to the Rwanda Development Board statistics, receipts from tourism sector increased by 4 per cent with the over 714,000 recorded visitors, bringing into the economy $217m by October 2013.
Though tourists are still keen to travel, the new motivation of the journeys is now determined by their activities rather than the destination itself, industry experts say.
Africa will register an increase in tourist’s influx of 4 to 6 per cent followed by Europe and the Americas both +3 per cent to +4 per cent and the middle east registering 5 per cent during 2014 according to world tourism report 2013.