Africa’s tourism industry has huge potential to make the continent a top destination, according to experts. However, this can only be realised if governments promote more collaborative efforts while developing and promoting investments in Africa’s aviation and hospitality industries, industry experts say.
Experts at the just-ended Africa Hotel Investment Forum (AHIF) in Kigali said besides helping attract new investments into the two areas, co-ordination could spur arrivals, which is one of key drivers for tourism growth.
During the conference, which attracted high calibre hotel and airline operators, Rwanda was commended for using creative models that link hotel and aviation together, which has help expand the tourism industry over the years.
Speaking at the forum, John Mirenge, the RwandAir chief executive officer, said the tourism industry, particularly the aviation and hotel sectors, contribute significantly toward the country’s growth. He attributed this to the fact that the stakeholders in two sectors work jointly.
“The fact that we are delivering our first wide bodies (Airbus planes) at the same time when all these big hotel brands are opening doors in Rwanda is not an accident.
“All this is planned together with government because we have understood the symbiotic relationship between hotel rooms and airline capacity required,” he said.
Mirenge explained that local industry players work with government and other stakeholders, noting that the aviation and hotel sectors collaborate in many areas “as they are serving the same national objective under Vision 2020.”
Rwanda is currently working on a mega airport project, the Bugesera International Airport that is expected to be completed by 2018. The facility to be built on 4,000 hectares of land, will be comprised of a three-star hotel with 150 rooms, shopping centres and offices. The country has also put in place supportive polices to attract investments in two industries.
Speaking at the conference, Raphael Kuuchi, the vice-president of the International Air Transport Association (IATA), said tourism promotion models like those used by Rwanda could go a long way in developing the tourism sector in Africa.
“I have visited many African countries, but not many countries have a model for developing and promoting the tourism sector like Rwanda’s. I know countries use different approaches, but I would recommend other African countries to adopt models, like Rwanda’s that have worked,” he said.
Kuuchi lauded the integration and the collaboration between policy-makers and sector players with the government, saying it has contributed a lot to the growth of the local tourism and hospitality sectors.
Air connectivity is still a challenge in many African countries, limiting movement of people on the continent.
This also affects tourism arrivals and investments into the sector and should be tackled through collaborative efforts of all stakeholders.
While calling for building of strong linkages between hospitality and aviation sectors, Alex Kyriakidis, the Marriott International president and managing director for Middle East and Africa, and Rezidor Hotel Group president and chief executive Wolfgang Neumann said such collaboration has led to infrastructure development, and strengthen the capacity of tourism industry to attract more arrivals and new funding.Follow https://twitter.com/Julio_Bizimungu