Adopt a holistic approach to tourism

Being in the tourism sector for over three decades, it is of vital importance to have a complete bouquet of tourism products and services for sustained growth, rather than just focus on luxury tourism.

Editor,

RE: “RDB considers luxury tourism” (The New Times, June 22).

 

Being in the tourism sector for over three decades, it is of vital importance to have a complete bouquet of tourism products and services for sustained growth, rather than just focus on luxury tourism.

 

Religious tourism, for example, definitely does not come within the luxury tourism segment but, Rwanda having the Holy Land of Kibeho, would do well to lay adequate stress on this important segment. For now, the Rwanda Tourism website makes no mention whatsoever of Kibeho. Yet from just Mumbai alone, we had as many as sixty-eight religious tourists visit Kibeho in just over six months. The Government of India has already sanctioned the allocation of necessary funds needed to upgrade the road leading to Kibeho.

 

It is a known fact that Asia’s biggest slum is Dharavi in Mumbai, and smart tour companies have capitalised on this fact and successfully marketed the ‘Dharavi Tour’ to very many foreign visitors.

Here in Rwanda, we have remarkable refugee camps. MIDIMAR (Ministry of Disaster Preparedness and Refugee Affairs) has just showcased two such camps to visitors. Just as Indian tour operators have turned Dharavi into a ‘ tourism product’, it might be prudent to explore the opportunity of likewise converting the refugee camps into tourism products.

Such an initiative would enhance the self-esteem of the refugees and simultaneously help enable ‘Made in Rwanda’ products to reach international markets. This again would not be luxury tourism but it would inculcate among the refugees a sense of achievement and satisfaction that, despite their current status, they are born for greater things.

When developing any sector, we must lay adequate stress on the service providers in the different segments. There are ever so many service providers in the one, two, three and four star hotel segments. These service providers have, on their part, already invested considerable amount of capital and for sure would look to receiving an adequate return on their investments.

Just as in an aircraft, there is a healthy mix of economy and business class seats and of course in larger configurations there are also first class seats, so also when it comes to accommodation facilities, it is important to have a healthy mix of different star categories of accommodation rather than look at only the five-star and five-star deluxe categories which luxury tourism would focus on.

MICE tourism is another key segment for the country’s tourism revenues. But here, too, there are MICE groups which fall within the different categories and all will definitely not be looking at the five-star and five-star deluxe categories alone but rather a bouquet of tourism products and services.

Clarence Fernandes

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