Thanks to globalisation and technology, we no longer just consume news but what is trending. When a news story is trending, it finds you; you don’t find it. It will be covered by the big global news channels, the local ones, and of course it will be all over social media. You will get it from your connected sources and from others who will ask you if it is true. These trends also mean that at one point we are all talking about a royal wedding in England and then we quickly move to Rwanda and Arsenal. This is precisely what happened when news came in that one of the biggest English Premier League clubs, Arsenal FC, was to have “Visit Rwanda” on the left sleeve of the players’ jerseys in a three year partnership. A lot has been said about this deal and how smart it is, how it captures Rwanda’s ambitions not only as a tourism destination but as a big brand. There is no doubt that this deal is clearly the right shot in the arm (pun intended) for Rwandan tourism in particular and Rwanda in general. Like other East African countries, Rwanda relies heavily on tourism receipts to support its development agenda. However tourism in this region suffers from many bottlenecks one of which is the poor country branding. The main source markets that we target for visitors, in Europe and North America and recently Asia tend to consume a lot of negative (both true and false) information about our countries. The biggest bottleneck in my view remains the fact that for most people outside this continent, Africa is a country and even when they try to make out some individual countries they can only think of South Africa, Nigeria, and Egypt. Beyond this all they can do is recall countries based on the negative attributes. Our governments therefore have to do all they can to brand themselves better and keep reminding all who care that when they land in an airport in this region it is not that they are visiting “Africa” but Rwanda, Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania, Burundi or whatever particular country owns the airport they just landed. People in the tourism industry will tell you for free that many people still do not know about our countries and what they have to offer. For this reason, brand visibility for our countries is a priceless investment. Spectator sports rank up there as one of the best platforms to use to push country brand visibility. It helps a lot when a country’s sports men and women excel at the international stage. Kenyans have benefited the most from this thanks to their champion long distance runners and their Rugby 7s team. At one time they even had a cricket team good enough to play in the Cricket World Cup and even hosted some World Cup games in Nairobi! Where we fail to play we do not fail to watch. Millions of people watch football which is undoubtedly the biggest spectator sport in the world. And using it to market country brands is always a smart move. Many may not remember, although I once mentioned it here, that Tanzanians embraced this wisdom early on when they entered a partnership with Sunderland AFC. As official destination partners with Tanzania, the players wore shirts before a home game with Liverpool, with ‘Visit Tanzania’ emblazoned on the chest area. The back of the shirt had “Tanzania the land of Kilimanjaro, Zanzibar and the Serengeti with a photo of Kilimanjaro. I am sure the Tanzanians are already reaping from this deal that included provision of technical support towards the development of a football academy. Later on, Tanzania was to benefit from more visibility when through the massive sponsorship of Kenyan-based SportPesa; they hosted a game between Everton and Gor Mahia. Although the main attraction was England international Wayne Rooney, Tanzania and East Africa (a Rwandan raised in Uganda scored for Kenya’s Gor Mahia) got good visibility from this event. Just the other day, Nairobi hosted a game between Hull City and Gor Mahia. Visit Rwanda being on the jerseys of one of the biggest clubs in the English Premier League has already resulted in so many people talking about Rwanda. When the players walk onto the pitch at the beginning of the season the conversation will continue. This is an important conversation that often results in one asking Google more about Rwanda and hopefully booking a ticket to come and see what the country has to offer. To the visitors, murakaza neza! The views expressed in this article are of the author.