RDB to start licensing tour operators

All tourism entities in the country will henceforth be required by law to acquire a tourism operating license. The development was announced by the Rwanda Development Board (RDB) on Monday which they say is aimed at improving the quality of service in the sector.
Tourists view elephants from a boat in Akagera National Park. / Courtesy
Tourists view elephants from a boat in Akagera National Park. / Courtesy

All tourism entities in the country will henceforth be required by law to acquire a tourism operating license.

The development was announced by the Rwanda Development Board (RDB) on Monday which they say is aimed at improving the quality of service in the sector.

 

The tourism licensing requirement, RDB claims is in compliance to a ministerial order which came into effect in October last year.

 

According to a statement sent out by the agency, the new regulation will affect all tourism entities in the country including accommodation establishments, restaurants, bars, nightclubs, tour operators, travel agencies, tour guides, tourism information offices and cultural tourism entities among others.

 

“By regulating the industry, RDB aims to improve quality of service, build the capacity of the private sector, and improve the marketing of Rwanda as a tourism destination. According to the tourism law, all tourism entities are required to obtain a tourism operating license. Ministerial Order No25 of 14/09/2016 determines the requirements and fees for a tourism entity to be granted this license,” the statement reads in part.

The licensing process will involve application through an online portal www.tourismregulation.rw, pay a fee before submitting to a physical inspection at their premise.

The portal was set up in November last year and has been tried and tested with the registration of select enterprises.

“These pilot participants were required to submit an online license application, upload a series of supporting documents, pay an application fee of Rwf80,000, and undergo physical inspection to demonstrate that they have fulfilled all license requirements,” the statement reads further.

RDB’s Chief Tourism Officer, Belise Kariza said that the move is aimed at positioning the country as an industry leader in the region.

“As we advance in quality service provision, we should focus on investing in effective administrative mechanisms which to a great extent depend on licensing to strengthen the industry’s legitimacy and position in the region,” she said.

The development follows a recent announcement that the agency is mulling high end tourism to drive up revenue.

To facilitate the ambitions RDB tourism department is soon convening a tourism stakeholder’s working group to brainstorm on the ambitions.

Private sector response

Speaking to The New Times, Rwanda Tours and Travel Association (RTTA) chairperson Bonita Mutoni said that the private sector operators were consulted in the process of coming up with the law.

She said that if the licensing and regulation will serve to improve the service and professionalism in the sector.

Mutoni noted that the in the process to institute the new regulations and equirements, private sector operators were accorded a chance to make their inputs.

The tourism sector is projected to fetch about $444 million (about Rwf370 billion) in 2017, up from $404 million last year.

The increase in revenue banks on continued tourism promotion efforts as well as the Meetings, Incentives, Conferences, Events and Exhibitions (MICE) strategy.

Local tourism stakeholders say the targets by RDB are feasible and could easily be surpassed largely due to the new gorilla trekking fees, RwandAir expansion and the MICE initiative.

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