The Director General of the Commonwealth Business Council (CBC), Dr.Mohan Kaul, who was present at the just concluded investment forum in Kigali, encouraged Rwanda to expand its conference tourism.
His call follows a recent study by On The Frontier (OTF) group—an American competitiveness consulting firm—which revealed that the country would reap $40 million (Rwf23bn), annually, from Meetings, Incentives, Conferences, and Exhibitions (MICE) tourism by the year 2012.
Whereas Rwanda’s approach to tourism has been aggressive and creative, resulting into increased visitors each year, Dr. Kaul’s statement that the country should lobby the Commonwealth secretariat to bring some of its Heads of Government meetings to Rwanda is proof that there are still sectors within the tourism industry awaiting to be exploited.
The OTF group says that Rwanda needs to invest $303,000 (Rwf167.6m) in marketing, training and the setting up of a convention bureau. This, therefore, calls for diversification of the tourism industry both in terms of products and markets.
Like other MICE tourism destinations, a dedicated Meeting and Convention bureau in Rwanda would help to coordinate all efforts on meetings, incentives and conferences. This office would facilitate visas, tax and other incentives to boost the number of visitors to Rwanda.
Tourism receipts have grown tremendously since the 1994 Genocide against Tutsi, making the sector one of Rwanda’s top foreign exchange earners. This is largely due to the good governance and stability that the country has enjoyed in the last sixteen years.
Therefore, product and market diversification, relevant marketing, research, and e-tourism will help link the country to visitors, hence increasing tourism contribution to the Gross Domestic Product (GDP).