2018 must have been one of the best years for the tourism industry in Rwanda and we cannot wait for what next year has in store for this vibrant industry. Rwanda Development Board actually projects a turnover of approximately 74 Million by the end of 2018.
The year started with the launch of visa on arrival for citizens of all nations around the globe, and while we were still beaming over that, Ms. Clare Akamanzi had something else cooking up with her colleagues, then boom! The Visit Rwanda campaign in partnership with Arsenal was launched.
This week another announcement was made, Rwanda’s tourism packages can now be accessed through China’s online travel service platform Fliggy. Now, you may not have heard about the website www.fliggy.com because that is as far as your English can take you on the site. Information on the website is fully in a Chinese language, probably Mandarin, a dialect not so widely understood in this part of the world.
The reality of it though is the great publicity that this offers the country, they say any publicity is good publicity, and in this case the more online presence the country receives will have more tourists flocking into this region for a piece of the pie.
You may be wondering why Chinese? Well, China is one of the leading trade partners with Rwanda and with the country’s aspiration in spearheading development in Africa, having strategic partners such as China propels the country forward.
So then 2019 is here, and more Chinese tourists are exploiting the efficiency of the website to book a tour to Rwanda, a certain link has therefore been cut short and intermediaries who were previously of value while booking a trip to Rwanda have been quashed from the equation because tourists can now use that website to even book flights, hotels, research on travel experiences and so on.
This new advancement is good for the country, however, it poses a new challenge to tour agents, operators and brokers, to gain more relevance in the industry and fragment their marketing skills so as not to cry about the loss of their jobs to technology just yet.
One good question to ask ourselves in strategizing our way forward is, how are we all supporting Rwanda Development Board and other Government institutions in continuously positioning Rwanda’s travel packages as the leading in the region? It is good to realize that all these new marketing initiatives and partnerships for our benefit and how we choose to elevate them is another step to the right direction.
Maybe it’s time to work with Chinese translators or multi-lingual speakers from Rwanda to earn that competitive edge as tour operators and traders for this venture. Or maybe, it is time to do your market research more closely to identify how to tap into this niche market on what Chinese tourists are really looking for or interested in.
I may not have the best skill in the tourism industry but I know two things very well. One, different tourism packages appeal to nationals from different countries, for example an American tourist may prefer a somewhat different package from one tailored for an Asian or European tourist. Two, it is good to constantly make alterations that can improve our profit margins as business men and women but it is better to make informed decisions through research, an ignition for innovation in the country.