The tourism sector fetched $438M in revenues in 2017 up from $404M in the previous year, the Rwanda Development Board Annual Report shows.
The sector however slightly fell short of the projected $440M.
To realize the revenues, business travelers brought in the lion’s share of the receipts at 33 per cent followed by visits at 29 per cent. Holiday makers raked in 27 per cent of the receipts.
Rwanda recorded 28,308 delegates in 2017, up from 23,804 in 2016 with meetings, incentives, conferences and exhibitions contributing $ 42 million in 2017 (down from $47M in 2016). The subsector is expected to increase its contribution of receipts to $74M in 2018.
The country was estimated to have hosted 169 international meetings with a third of them organized by RDB’s new unit, Rwanda Convention Bureau.
East African Community Travelers were found to have generated the highest revenue at 25 per cent followed by Europe at 22 per cent with Europe as the third at 21 per cent.
In terms of parks, Volcanoes National Park accounts for generates a significant majority of revenues at USD 17.1 M (about 90 per cent of park revenue) despite attracting only 38 per cent of visitors.
Akagera National Park raised about USD1M after attracting about 44,000 visitors in 2017 with Nyungwe attracting 14,000 visitors.
In 2017, revenue from Gorilla tickets increased by 14.1 per cent to over $18M while permit sales slightly rose by 3.5 per cent to 24, 000 permits.
The RDB annual report (PDF) also showed that Rwanda’s tourism attraction reached over 173m people through global media exposure, as the country makes effort to position itself as one of Africa’s leading tourist destinations.
The reach was achieved through familiarization trips, participation in international travel trade shows and participation and in regional and international fairs.
The reach is further expected to increase significantly this year following a recent agreement with top UK Premier League team Arsenal FC.
Tourism is expected to maintain its growth trajectory in 2018 leaning on drivers as improved visa regimes, safety, security, investment in hospitality infrastructure among others.
The national carrier, RwandAir is currently serving multiple destinations which has further improved accessibility of the country.
A number of high level summits have been held in Kigali so far, with others set to take place in coming months. Kigali is this year expected to host a number of high profile meetings including eighth FIFA Council Meeting later this year.
Experts say that to maintain growth, there is need to continuously invest in quality services within the tourism sector to increase comparative advantage.