Tourist arrivals in Rwanda could increase in the wake of reports showing that the country is among the top 10 safest countries on earth. According to the latest biennial Travel and Tourism Competitiveness Report, published by the World Economic Forum (WEF), Rwanda is the nineth safest country globally for tourists.
The World Economic Forum ranked 136 countries in its report with one section focusing on safety, where Finland is the safest country in the world for holidaymakers.
The UAE and Iceland came in second and third place, respectively, while Oman took fourth place, followed by Hong Kong, Singapore and Norway in fifth, sixth and seventh, respectively.
Switzerland came in eighth, Rwanda ninth and Qatar completed the top 10 under the safety and security pillar which looks at the extent to which a country exposes tourists and business to security risks, including violence and terrorism.
Rwanda is promoting the Meetings Incentives, Conferences and Exhibitions (MICE) initiative and, Frank Murangwa, the head of Rwanda Convention Bureau – under which the initiative falls – at the Rwanda Development Board, says the ranking is a “vote of confidence in the country.”
Murangwa said: “This is a vote of confidence in our country to continue to do the right things, especially focusing on economic development. And MICE, being one of the key drivers for economic development, will continue to flourish.
“The first question all meeting planners ask before they choose a destination for their events is whether the destination is safe. Hence this ranking is a statement of confidence in us as a country.”
Major events Rwanda is set to host this year include the Transform Africa Summit in May, the Youth Connekt Summit in July, and the Africa Hotel Investment Forum.
According to the report, the safety and security pillar considers aspects such as: business costs of crime and violence, reliability of police services, business costs of terrorism, index of terrorism incidence and homicide rate.
Under the same WEF ranking, super powers, including the United Kingdom and U.S. are languishing far behind in 78th, and 84th places, respectively.
According to Bonita Mutoni, chairperson of the Rwanda Tour and Travel Association (RTTA), WEF announcing that Rwanda is in the top 10 safest countries in the world is an “incredible boost” to the local tourism industry.
“Rwanda needs to challenge the negative stereotypes that the average traveller has of the destination. Most travellers consider safety as the main factor when travelling and it is important for them to know that Rwanda is a much safer country compared to the traditional tourist destinations they have been travelling to,” Mutoni said.
The RTTA, she said, will make sure to leverage and use this in marketing the destination to increase international and regional tourists coming to Rwanda.
“We would like the world to know that, on top of safety, Remarkable Rwanda is a destination that offers incredible culture, diverse national parks, and the most hospitable people you will find.”
With regards to key indicators, the latest WEF report, among others, puts Rwanda’s international tourist arrivals at 987,000, and international tourism inbound receipts at $317.8 million.
As Rwanda joined the global community in celebrating World Tourism Day, last September, the RDB indicated that the number of visitors to the three major national parks, Akagera National Park, Nyungwe National Park, and Volcanoes National Park had “impressively increased” and revenue incentives also matured.
Total revenue generated in 2014 alone was $305 million and it is projected to grow at a rate of 25% until 2018.