Rwanda’s Meetings and Conferences sector is seeking ways to survive and remain relevant amid a new Covid-19 wave that has halted resumption of normal activities. With the tourism sector which includes meetings and conferences being among the most adversely affected by the pandemic threatening livelihoods of stakeholders. Travel restrictions, social distancing are among the factors that have seen events and conferences halted in a bid to curb the spread of the pandemic. While the MICE sector was a key contributor to the overall tourism revenues raking in an average of 12 per cent for the past 5 years. However while meetings and conferences were projected to rake in $106 Million in 2020, only about 4 per cent was realized. In a bid to survive amidst the circumstances, the sector has outlined a new recovery strategy that could keep the sector afloat. Among the aspects of the strategy includes realignment of marketing and communication strategy as well as capitalising on domestic meetings and events. This will see stakeholders attempt to incentivize the local market to make the most of local tourism facilities. According to the Rwanda Convention Bureau Deputy Chief Executive, Janet Karemera the sector has also adopted virtual and hybrid events and are also strengthening home grown events. Karemera added that the sector has adjusted its readiness to adopt, comply and implement any emerging guidelines. She added that the local industry has also shifted its focus on regional and continental events in consideration with the current travel restrictions and challenges across the world. “Rwanda has a great foundation for the MICE industry. We have support from the government, new MICE infrastructure, confidence in the destination, strategic focus in sales, ease of access to the country, presence of a convention bureau and collaboration with the private sector,” she said. In the second half of the year, Rwanda is set to host over 15 events, most convening continental stakeholders with others being hybrid events. Among the key events include; Volleyball world tour, International Association of Francophone Cities, FIBA Women’s Afrobasket, International Conference of Narrative therapy and community Work, FIBA Men’s Afrobasket and Kwita Izina. Other events to be held in the second half of 2021 include Digibank Africa Summit, Aviation Africa, Africa Micro-finance week, African Coffee and Tea expo, Cybertech Africa and International Conference on Conservation Biology among others. Rwanda Development Board Chief Executive Clare Akamanzi said that the sector is starting to see resumption in our tourism numbers both in terms of visiting the national parks and hotels which they plan to make the most of. “We are starting to see some growth or resumption in our tourism numbers both in terms of visiting the national parks and hotels. Though small, we want to make the most of the small business we see coming…We want to collectively work to support businesses,” she said. Akamanzi however noted the need for the sector to implement the Standard Operating Procedures to allow resumption of activities. “We need to continue to implement the Standard Operating Procedures of the Health Ministry because the more we do this and manage the pandemic, the faster we’ll see growth like we saw in quarter one this year,” she said. The country was recently lauded for its ability to host the Basket Africa League amidst a pandemic without incident.