Calls for united EAC stand next year
NYARUGENGE - President Paul Kagame Tuesday night received the prestigious award Rwanda won as best African exhibitor at the annual International Tourism Trade Fair (ITB) in Berlin last month.
At the colourful ceremony held at Kigali Serena Hotel to celebrate the victory at the world’s leading tourism and travel expo, President Kagame, said that he was delighted to join Rwandans and East Africans in general to celebrate the victory which is a sign that the region is a tourist magnet.
Rwanda won the award for the third time in a row.
The President advised that the East African Community (EAC) to think of building one stall at the next expo in an effort to market the region as a single tourist destination and to also seek means to come up with a single EAC tourist Visa.
Kagame also congratulated Kenya for emerging third in the best African Exhibitor Category that had over 81 exhibitors from 34 African countries.
At the ceremony also attended by the Kenyan Minister for Tourism, Najib Balala, the President said that the regional tourism sector would be highly boosted if it was marketed as one, since tourists are no longer interested in individual countries but prefer a more broader and diverse area.
Kagame also noted that amid the current financial crisis, travellers have become more stringent and mindful of their spending, saying that the tourism sector in the region is likely to be affected directly.
He suggested that among other measures, the EAC needs to negotiate a single entry Visa, uniform and friendly prices that will encourage tourists to continue choosing the EAC as their preferred destination.
Kagame who is also the current EAC Chairperson, called upon partner states to come together and adopt ways to sustain the industry which is arguably the leading foreign currency earner in all the five regional countries.
He added that tourism remains a backbone of the continued growth that the continent has registered in the past year, with a rate of 5 percent in 2008.
The President commended the Rwanda Development Board- Office for Tourism and National Parks (RDB/ORTPN) and other exhibitors for ably representing the country.
The Deputy CEO RDB/ORTPN, Rosette Chantal Rugamba, commended the government for its efforts towards promoting the growth of the tourism sector to its current levels.
She praised the team that represented the country in Germany for a superb performance that made them emerge number one.
Rwanda impressed with her traditional dances, handicrafts and traditional architecture, to beat other African exhibitors.
The Kenyan Minister concurred with President Kagame, expressing his country’s interest in joining other EAC partners to set up one stall.