For the second year running, Rwanda last week grabbed the ITB Berlin best exhibitor award in the Africa category. But what made the country retain this prestigious highly coveted award?
What magic did the Office of Tourism and National Parks (ORTPN) bring into play? The answers to these questions are simple: the country’s hand-made baskets and the commitment of every Rwandan delegate at the annual tourism trade fair in Germany.
ORTPN Director General Rosette Chantal Rugamba, who was the head of the country’s delegation to the four-day exhibition, said on Wednesday that the presence of a Rwandan basket weaver on the delegation- Liberata Mukagakwaya- won the country the trophy.
“She is an expert in basket weaving; she did a great job which made us win the second ITB award,” Rugamba told journalists after a motorcade drive around the city centre to celebrate the award.
And it was all smiles for the woman behind the feat.
“At the exhibition, people could not believe that our baskets were hand-made, but would be amazed when they saw me making one (basket) for them. It really impressed everyone.” said Mukagakwaya:.
“The main reason why we won was our hard-work and commitment; it is an experience that I will never forget,” Mukagakwaya said.
Rugamba said that a total of 1600 local baskets (Agaseke) were given out free of charge during the global event.
She noted other factors which contributed to the country’s superiority at the 42nd ITB exhibition was their “eye-catching stand with spectacular creativity and design, cultural dancers and the warm reception from the Rwandan exhibitors.”
She also pointed to the flavour of Rwandan tea and coffee which were served to all who visited the Rwandan stand.
“We really didn’t use very exclusive tactics. It was just our commitment, the originality of products, including our rich culture, which were all attractive,” a beaming Rugamba said.
She said the uniqueness of Rwanda’s stand during the show won them many visitors including senior government officials from around the world.
She mentioned some of the visitors as Kenyan Vice President Kalonzo Musyoka, three Kenyan cabinet ministers, Kenya’s Ambassador to Germany, Zanzibar’s First Lady Shadya Karume and top German officials.
Rugamba further said that many visitors, who included investors, expressed interest in partnering with Rwandan tour operators, and investing in the country’s tourism sector.
Meanwhile, Rugamba said Rwanda spent about Frw 50 million on the exhibition.
She said most of the money was spent on air tickets, airlifting exhibition equipment, designing the exhibition stand, and the exhibits.
She said that amount was much less than what other countries had spent on the trade fair.
Rwanda was represented by eleven exhibitors at the function which ran from March 5-9. The annual tourism show, the biggest such event worldwide, drew 11,147 exhibitors from 186 countries and over 180,000 visitors.
Tunisia and South Africa became the first and second runners-up in Africa category. A total of ten African countries attended at the exhibition.
Rwanda emerged the second in the Africa bloc during the 2006 ITB Berlin exhibition. It is the eighth time it has participated eight times.