The annual Tour du Rwanda cycling race paces off tomorrow with a new mission to promote some tourist attractions in the country. World over, countries have used sporting events like the World Cup to promote tourism.
As sports fans and athletes go for such events, they also learn more about a country and its unique tourist attractions.
The organisers of this year’s much revamped Tour du Rwanda revealed how they will partner with the German Society for International Cooperation (Gesellschaft Internationale Zusammenarbeit) GIZ to promote the Kivu Belt region which has several tourist attractions like Lake Kivu, museums, tea plantations and the country’s manicured hills.
Sunday Magazine’s Martina Abera asked a cross section of people how Rwandan sports organisations can help in the country’s tourism agenda.
Sports is a tourism product which is often undermined or overlooked to say the least. Sometimes when we talk about tourism regarding sports, people’s minds divert to soccer, yet there are plenty of fields that are of definite value.
Sports tourism could be another avenue that can depict Rwanda to be an attraction site for many events. If sports tournaments such as volley ball and cycling are to be given more credit, then the number of foreign visitors coming into Rwanda would definitely increase.
Carmen Nibigira, Tourism policy analyst
I think sports organisations can enter into partnerships with tourism and other bodies to contribute to Rwanda’s tourism agenda. Sports is known to pull a significant amount of people into the country.
For example the Tour du Rwanda taking place this week, which will surely attract the attention of a variety of tourists. When tourists come around to attend such events, they definitely want to explore the city as well.
It would then be great for organisations like Rwanda Development Board to draw itineraries for them to tour around, hence contributing to the revenue coming into the country.
Bob Rutarindwa, PR and communications practitioner
First, By Rwanda professionalizing the various sports leagues, it will be able to attract foreign athletes to come and play in Rwanda.
Additionally, hosting games in conference destinations such as table tennis, darts and other indoor games at hotels or conference centers is key. This would certainly boost the tourism economy to say the least.
The Tour Du Rwanda as well will be able to up lift local expenditure and global visibility, the Rwandan brand and the cycling one among many others.
Besides, having good and attractive infrastructure is extremely beneficial. An example is the world class cricket ground in Gahanga which is now on the list of tourism sites that visitors can check out.
Charles Haba, Founding president of the Real Estate Association of Rwanda
We are looking to diversify tourism products. Cycling and sports in general is crucial because it is a product we can implement in our packages to portray Rwanda as the ultimate destination.
Setting aside the amazing Gorillas and game drives that our parks can offer, Sports could act as an added value for tourists which is a fundamental contribution.
I believe it is an important initiative which the people who are in charge, such as RDB should emphasize and put more effort.
Jacky Tumukunde, Founder and managing director of Jallyn Travels